In Matthew 7:12 Jesus said, “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets”, a statement often referred to as “the golden rule”.
While every subject in scripture is important, it is often possible to tell the relative importance of a subject by the number of times it is addressed in the Bible. There are very few subjects mentioned more often than that of how we are to treat other people. In Leviticus 19:18 we find the principle stated that we are to, “love your neighbor as yourself”. In Mark 12:29-31 Jesus stated that this command was second only to the command to, “love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength”. In James 2:8 James refers to the command to, “love your neighbor as yourself” as “the royal law”, a royal decree given by God. In Romans 13:8-10 the apostle Paul says, “Owe no man anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not bear false witness,’ ‘You shall not covet,’ and if there is any other commandment, all are summed up in this saying, namely, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” If we, “love our neighbor as ourselves” we will fulfill all the requirements of God’s law in regard to how we are to treat others.
It is important to note that the kind of love under discussion in these passages is not primarily an emotion. It has more to do with wishing for another the highest possible good and working to bring that good about when possible; the kind of “love” we can have even for enemies (Matthew 5:43-45).
When many of us were young we were often admonished by our parents to remember “the golden rule” and to treat others as we, ourselves, would want to be treated in similar situations. The Bible tells us that this is, indeed, the proper method to follow in our interactions with others as we go about our everyday lives.
The “Golden Rule”