A few years back, in a business seminar, the instructor asked the audience what the golden rule was. Several hands went up and the answer was given—-“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
“Wrong!,” declared the instructor with enthusiasm, “the golden rule is—‘he who has the gold, makes the rules!’” The audience laughed and the instructor went on to proclaim the value and power of money in our lives. Many bought into the possibilities, and that day, the instructor’s company made the “gold.”
During the greatest sermon ever recorded, the Savior taught a much different view of the life experience. On the mount he declared, “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets” (Matthew 7:12). Jesus’ words express a need to act positively towards others, doing something for others first, instead of reacting to others inappropriate actions towards us.
Many of the world’s religions have similar concepts promoting respect, tolerance, and love for others. Buddhism teaches, “Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful” (Udana-Varga 5:18).
Confucianism teaches, “Surely it is the maxim of loving-kindness: Do not unto others what you would not have them do unto you” (Analects 15:23).
Islam teaches, “No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself” (Sunnah).
Judaism teaches, “What is hateful to you, do not to your fellowman. That is the entire Law; all the rest is commentary” (Talmud, Shabbat 31a).
Brahmanism: “This is the sum of duty: Do naught unto others which would cause you pain if done to you” (Mahabharata 5:1517).
Taoism: “Regard your neighbor’s gain as your own gain and your neighbor’s loss as your own loss” (T’ai Shang Kan Ying P’ien).
And Zoroastrianism: “That nature alone is good which refrains from doing unto another whatsoever is not good for itself” (Dadistan-i-dinik 94:5). (The Old Farmers 2003 Almanac, p.304).
While many in the world are taught a version of the Golden Rule, the Savior seemed to take the concept to an even higher level. Later in His ministry, a lawyer intending to test the Savior, asked, “Master, which is the great commandment in the law?” In answering, the Savior explained how the law and the prophets should be elevated through God-like love when He replied, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love they neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22:36-40).
The Prophet Joseph strived to teach the early Saints this concept. He said, “If we would secure and cultivate the love of others, we must love others, even our enemies as well as friends” (History of the Church, 5:498).
Stories of his giving and caring for others endured him to the Saints. Whether it was taking the boys out to chop wood for the needy after a ball game, or showing how sorry he was that a brother’s house had burned down the night before to the amount of $5.00, Joseph was continually teaching the Saints to love and serve each other as they built Zion. He exclaimed that he “would esteem it one of the greatest blessings . . . to have my lot cast where I can find brothers and friends all around me” (History of the Church, 5:361).
This love for others can change lives for the better. The Prophet Joseph explained that, “Nothing is so much calculated to lead people to forsake sin as to take them by the hand, and watch over them with tenderness. When persons manifest the least kindness and love to me, O what power it has over my mind, while the opposite course has a tendency to harrow up all the harsh feelings and depress the human mind” (History of the Church, 5:23).
As we each strive to build Zion in our homes and hearts, and then reach out to those around us, it would be wise to keep in mind another quote from our dear Prophet Joseph. “Love is one of the chief characteristics of Deity, and ought to be manifested by those who aspire to be the sons of God. A man filled with the love of God, is not content with blessing his family alone, but ranges through the whole world, anxious to bless the whole human race” (History of the Church, 4:227).
In our day, the living prophets continues the encouraging from the Savior to live our lives in showing our love for our brothers and sisters. President Gordon B. Hinckley stated, “If we live by the principles of the gospel, we must be good people, for we will be generous and kind, thoughtful and tolerant, helpful and outreaching to those in distress. We can either subdue the divine nature and hide it so that it finds no expression in our lives, or we can bring it to the front and let it shine through all that we do” (Ensign, November 2002, p. 99).
May we strive to live and teach our families the universal and eternal law expressed in the Golden Rule. May each of us work to bring our “divine nature . . . to the front and let it shine through all that we do” as we prepare for Zion and the Second Coming of our Lord and Savior.