Do Unto Others

Church yesterday was not bad. I actually agreed mostly with what the pastor had to say. He advocated for helping the Syrian refugees. Good stuff.

refugees-greek-sea

What I did disagree with him on was him insinuating that Christians are the only good people in the world. Maybe he didn’t mean it like that exactly, however he reiterated many times that Christians are unique in their doing good to their neighbors.

He gave a scenario in which a Christian has a neighbor with whom he is not on good terms. The neighbor has cussed out the the guys’ children, yelled at him about his fence, etc. Further into the scenario, the neighbor is cutting his grass and has an accident where his lawn mower rolls on top of him. The pastor stated that since the guy is a Christian, he is to run over and help the man, bandage him, and call the paramedics.

Umm… no. Sorry. Since the guy is a human being, he should run over and help the man, bandage him, and call the paramedics. It would take a seriously disturbed individual to ignore such a situation.

I guess it is assumed that the Golden Rule started with Jesus. It is found in Luke 6:31, and Matthew 7:12. Yet this way of living has been taught by others long before Jesus.

Rabbi Hillel, one of the most famous Jewish figures, lived from 110 B.C.E to 10 C.E. A Gentile once asked him to explain the Torah to him while standing on one food. Hillel replied, “What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow: this is the whole Torah; the rest is commentary; go and learn.”

The Golden Rule is actually found in almost every human culture and religion. The earliest is from Ancient Egypt’s Middle Kingdom in the story of The Eloquent Peasant, “Now this is the command: Do to the doer to make him do.” Likewise, a papyrus from the Late Egyptian Period reads, “That which you hate to be done to you, do not do to another.”

The Golden Rule is found in Ancient Chinese Religions such as Mohism, Taoism, and Confucianism. It is found in Ancient Greece as well as in Persia in the religion of Zoroastrianism. In Hinduism it is stated, “One should never do that to another which one regards as injurious to one’s own self. This, in brief, is the rule of dharma. Other behavior is due to selfish desires.” It was also taught in Buddhism during the time of Gautama. “Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.”

I’d like to end with a quote told by my ex-pastor’s wife. The conversation took place between she and an international student from China. The pastor’s wife was sharing the Gospel and, in some form or another, explaining how being a Christian makes you want to do good. The Chinese student responded,

“In China, we just call that ‘doing the right thing.'”

Norman Rockwell

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2 thoughts on “Do Unto Others

  1. I recall many Christians making the distinction between the positive and negative phrasings, i.e. “do unto others as you would have them do…” vs. “don’t do to others what you would not want…” And I think the common thought was that Jesus (or the bible) was the first with the positive phrasing.

    Do you think it’s a distinction worth making? Why / why not? Are they correct that he was first?

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    • The earliest is from Ancient Egypt’s Middle Kingdom in the story of The Eloquent Peasant, “Now this is the command: Do to the doer to make him do.” This is a positive and not a negative. So they are not correct. But no, I see no real distinction.

      Liked by 1 person

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