A significant event occurred in our history in the west in 1848. James Wilson Marshall made a discovery at Sutter’s Mill in California that would make a profound effect on the people in our country and in California itself.  As a result of his find, San Francisco grew from a small town to a city of 25,000 in one year’s time. Prices for food and lodging soared. Men and women across the country suffered hardship, disease, hunger, and even death making the trek to California. However, some of those who were able to survive made as much as $5,000 in three days. As a result of the massive flood of people to this area, California was admitted to the Union as a state in 1850. The discovery was gold and  the event was the California Gold Rush of 1849.


The news of gold and the possibility of making it rich was just to tempting for people. Ever since gold was discovered, humans have indulged in it, treasured it, hoarded it, fought for it, and even died for it. The Egyptians went so far as to identify gold with the “gods,” because it reminded them of the sun. So, to merely say that humans are fascinated by gold is an understatement.  


I wish everyone would desire the Word of God as much as they do gold and other priceless treasures. Think about how our world would be if everyone one was willing to, indulge in, fight for, and even die for the Word of God. After all, is not the Word of God a “golden treasure”? To be more specific, there is a teaching of Christ that we have linked the word “gold”


 Matthew 7:12 "Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.


This saying of Jesus has been appropriately labeled “The Golden Rule” But why is it called this?  First of all, consider its beauty. This message is so brilliant that surpasses the brilliance of gold. This principle of this message is easy for everyone to understand and apply to their lives. This simply saying demands: fairness, justice, equality, and empathy.


The simple teaching even had influence and power over the Roman Emperor Alexander Severus. History teaches us that he greatly admired this rule and had it written on the walls of his closet. He quoted it when he giving judgment, and honored Christ and favored Christians for the sake of it.


Not only was the Golden Rule taught by Christianity, its principle has been found in just about every corrupt religion. For instance:


Islam: No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself.

Taoism: (Collection of Chinese philosophy and tradition) Regard your neighbor’s gain as your own gain, and your neighbor’s loss as your own loss.

Judaism: What is hateful to you, do not to your fellow man. That is the entire Law; all the rest is commentary.

Buddhism: Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.


 I want you to think about this, if everyone in the world decided to follow the Golden Rule it would completely change our world. There would be no more crime, no more prison cells, no gas chambers, and no electric chairs. Discrimination, prejudice, and all other forms of racial hatred and bigotry would cease. The nightly news would not be able to report on terrorist attacks, the hijacking of planes, kidnappings, bombings, or other forms of violence. Instead, all of these things would simply be reminders of our past and we could see how we had overcome our wickedness by following the golden rule.


The Golden rule is great summary of how we should treat our fellow man. Now I want take a closer look at the Golden rule. The first point I want to make is that,


The conduct of the world is in contrast to Christ’s teaching


It has been said that there are four rules by which we live: (1) the iron rule, (2) the brass rule, (3) the silver rule, and (4) the golden rule. Although we are primarily concerned about the golden rule I want to briefly discuss these other rules.


The Iron Rule

This rule is based on the brutal and satanic principle of “might makes it right.” Cain was the first to practice the iron rule when he stained his hands with the innocent blood of his brother Abel. Every murder from then until now and every war that has ever been fought have been a direct result of the iron rule principle. Adolf Hitler loved this philosophy. He attempted to build a superior human race and he wanted to weed out those he considered to be weak. So, he enforced the iron rule and started murdering all those who did not fit his concept.


The iron rule also states, “What is yours is mine if I can take it by force.” The Old Testament kings Ahab and David are two prime examples of iron-rule followers: Ahab coveted Naboth’s vineyard and obtained it by force (1 Kings 21), and David took another man’s wife in much the same way (2 Sam. 11).


There are many today that follow after the iron rule. An FBI statistic made in 1998 reveals that in the United States there were 1,370,978 violent crimes. Of that number, 12,008 were murders, 65,574 were rapes, 318,994 were robberies, and 974,402 were aggravated assaults. It is horrifying to realize that there are people in our society who had just as soon take your life as shake your hand because they have the iron-rule mentality.


A person does not have to be a thief or murder to have the mentality of the iron-rule because,


1 John 3:15  Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.

So, if you hate your brothers or sister in Christ you live by the iron rule. Also if a person has the Diotrephes complex  of 3 Jn. 1:9-10 and you try to be the supreme ruler again you the iron-rule is what you are living by. Now let look at the,


The Brass Rule

The brass rule is the “get even” philosophy. It says, “Do unto others as they do unto you. I will treat you as you treat me—good for good, evil for evil.” This idea is both defended and practiced by many in the world, as well as by some in the church. The Scriptures clearly denounce such an attitude:


Bless them which persecute you; bless, and curse not…Recompense to no man evil for evil…Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord (Rom. 12:14; Rom. 12:17; Rom. 12:19).


The Silver Rule

The silver rule is the rule of Confucius, which says, “Do nothing unto others that you would not have them do unto you.” Hillel, the great Jewish rabbi, is reported to have taught the same concept. This is a negative rule that requires no good acts of mankind. This law forbids a person from murdering his neighbor, but it does not require them to help their neighbor.


There are many who call themselves Christians that follow the silver-rule. They stay out of mischief, but they don’t do any good. Some are like the rich young ruler of Matthew 19: they do not murder, commit adultery, steal, bear false witness, etc., but, on the other hand, they do not do any good acts to help others. They lift no load; they bear no burden. They are like the priest and Levite in the story of the good Samaritan they will simply pass by on the other side instead helping those who are in need of their help.


There is obviously no place in the life of Christian for the iron, silver, or brass rules. As Christians, we should lives our lives by the golden rule and consistently practice it.  So must learn to deal with others as we would like others to deal with us. Now let’s consider,


The context in which the golden rule is found


When Jesus was baptized by John and he began his ministry, He enlisted men who would become His apostles.  For the apostles’ work to be effective, they would have to be instructed by Jesus so they would know how to live their lives and be able to teach others how to live according to God’s Word. One the greatest lesson they received was when Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount in Mat. 5 – 7. This is was not a long sermon. In fact, it only takes about 15 minutes to read it out loud. This just goes to show you that a sermon doesn’t have to be lengthy as long as the long as the message is made. 


A great example of this comes from our own history. On November 19, 1863, two men came to Pennsylvania to dedicate a Union cemetery: one was Edward Everett and the other was Abraham Lincoln. Everett spoke first, and spoke for one hour and fifteen minutes. However, Lincoln only spoke for a grand total of only two minutes! History does not remember much of Everett’s speech, but it will never forget Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.


The same can be said for the Sermon on the Mount. There have certainly been longer sermons given, but the world will never forget the Sermon on the Mount. Neither should we! It’s short, simple, sincere, and to the point. The lessons it teaches us are superb. It is filled with beauty, imagery, and has a powerful conclusion.


This sermon tells us what it means to be truly righteous. It teaches that one cannot substitute hypocrisy with the truth as the scribes and Pharisees had done. The key to this grand sermon is found in Matthew 6:8, which basically says, “Do not be like them!” Of course the sermon on the mount includes our Golden text in,


Matthew 7:12  "Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.


While others say “Don’t,” Jesus says “Do.” Jesus gave us this positive command so that we would our best to have a positive and meaningful influence on other people.  


When we examine the golden rule, we must keep this verse in context. Notice our verse starts out using “Therefore.” Jesus is summing up what He has taught in previous 11 verses. In these previous verses, Jesus taught about not rendering unjust judgment and the proper attitude that we should have in giving to others. This is why it’s so important that we let the Golden Rule be our guide in our daily lives.


For instance, when it comes to being judged,  I want to be given the benefit of the doubt. Therefore, since I am guided by the Golden Rule, I’ll give others the benefit of the doubt. I want to be considered innocent until proven guilty; therefore, I’ll consider others innocent until proven guilty. I do not want others jumping to conclusions about me without having the facts; therefore, I won’t jump to conclusions about others without having the facts. In essence, the Golden Rule teaches me that just as I want others to have a proper attitude toward me, I’ll have a proper attitude toward them.


Not only is this verse related to the context of Matthew 7, it is also relates to all the Scriptures because the basic principle of this saying can be used in virtually every one of life’s situations. It causes us to put ourselves in the other person’s shoes and to ask ourselves, “If I were them, how would I like to be treated?” Once we answer that question in our minds, we must then act accordingly.


Now the Golden Rule is limited by the will of God. In other words, we cannot abuse this saying in anyway that would go against what the rest of the Bible teaches. For instance, if I said “I want someone to lie, cheat, and steal for me; therefore, since I am guided by the Golden Rule, I will lie, cheat, and steal for them!” Any interpretation like this would violate God’s teachings as recorded elsewhere, so we can only apply the Golden rule as long as it is in harmony with the rest of the Bible.  

Another thing I want to point about the Golden Rule is that it is a rule and is not a suggestion; it is not a “take-it-or-leave-it” situation. It is a command that is just as binding as any other command like Jesus said in, John 14:15   If you love Me, keep My commandments. If you love Jesus then you will treat others as you want to be treated in harmony with God’s Word


Several years ago, a lady was murdered on a New York City street. The people who lived in the area heard her screams, but ignored them. Her attacker came and left several times, but the neighbors pulled down their windows to avoid hearing her cries. They refused to get involved; they didn’t even call the police! Had they been in her situation, you know they would have wanted help. This poor lady would probably be alive today if her neighbors had practiced the Golden Rule.


Jesus has a much higher standard by which He wants His people to be guided; we could all use a heavy dose of the Golden Rule in our homes, congregations, and in our society! Think of the difference it would make in our world if people lived by the Golden rule. It would make our nation and our world be at peace with one another. Think about how it wonderful our families would be if we could all live by this rule. There we be no need for arguing and fighting because we would always consider the other person and not treat them poorly. We could certainly use this golden rule in the church because there have been too many congregations that have split over stupid stuff that had nothing to do with doctrine. If the Golden rule had been practiced, many of the divisions would have never happened. That is how powerful the Golden rule can be if we will practice it in our lives.


In order for you to reap the benefits from the Golden rule you have to be willing to commit yourself to live by it.


The question becomes, are you willing to make the commitment? Will you be considerate of others? Will you treat others as you would like to be treated?


We need to think how others are affected by our speech and actions. We should ask ourselves: “Would I like to be treated the way that I am treating this individual?” Far too many are like the little girl who was guilty of tattling on her brothers and sisters. When asked if she would like others to tattle on her, she replied, “No, that would be no fun.” When asked why she constantly tattled, she answered, “Because that is fun!”


Although most can see the immaturity of this little girl, sometimes as Christians we fail to see the immaturity and inconsideration in our own lives. We always want to be given the benefit of the doubt and to be considered innocent until proven guilty, but sometimes we are the very ones who jump to conclusions when it comes to the actions and attitudes of others.


We want others to be patient with us as we try to overcome faults in our own lives, but do we offer others the same amount of patience? It is our desire that others come and speak to us directly if we have wronged them or sinned in some way, rather than spreading it throughout the community, but do we act accordingly toward them? Yes, we often expect the best out of everyone else, but do we expect that of ourselves?


Living by the Golden rule and showing consideration toward others would put an end to   suspicions, evil speaking, gossip, backbiting, abuse, harsh and unjust criticism, and so on. We may also discover that the more considerate we are of others, the more considerate they are of us.


Another good question is will you be consistent in your lifestyle? We want others to set good examples; we should do likewise, realizing that Christianity is not limited to the first day of the week! One of the strongest speeches Jesus gave in regards the scribes and Pharisees that pointed out their hypocrisy is found in Matthew 23. 


Matthew 23:3 "Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do.


This was the main problem with the Scribes and the Pharisees. They were unwilling to practice what they preached. Since they did not live by what they preached, Jesus called them hypocrites 7 times in this chapter alone.


You see, God demands that His people be consistent people that practice what they preach. So, let us do our best to be consistent in the words that we use. We should not praise a person to their face and then “stab them in the back.” Consistency in our speech will help eliminate slander and other sins of the tongue.


We should be consistent at all times and in all places, whether on a Sunday or Saturday, whether at home or in a distant land. I hope we can all learn to be consistent like the apostle Paul, and say what he did to the Galatians,


Galatians 2:20 "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.


If you are going to be able to live by the golden rule there are going to be times when you are going to have to fight against the pride that is your life. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is very difficult for the self-centered, conceited, proud egotist.


Those who have these characteristics will have difficult time applying the golden rule because people who are like this only think of themselves and their favorite words are  I, me, mine, and myself.


If we every hope to live by the Golden Rule, we must eliminate pride from our lives. We must have a selfless and not a selfish attitude, and we must have the mind of Christ. Paul put it this way:


Philippians 2:2 fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.  3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.  4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.  5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,


How pure is the Golden Rule in your life? Is it solid gold? 18 karat gold? 10 karat gold? Is it simply gold overlaid? Or, God forbid, is it just “fool’s gold”? We can purify the Golden Rule in our lives by being considerate of others, consistent in our lifestyle, and by confronting and combating pride in our lives.


In Conclusion

Make no mistake, Gold is a valuable ore! It is currently worth several hundred dollars per ounce.  However, the Golden Rule is a principle that you can’t begin to put a price tag on. The 21 words found in the Golden rule teach a principle that no amount of money can every buy:


Matthew 7:12 "Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.


I want to give credit to Wayne Cox for this lesson because the majority of it was adapted from his great chapter in the “Sayings of Jesus” from the Power Lectureships.