Practice the Golden Rule: Matt. 7:12

Benedict of Nursia was born around 480, at a time when the Roman empire, and western civilization in general, was in turmoil.  Attacked by successive waves of barbarian invasions, Rome was on the brink of total collapse.  In response, Romans moved further and further into fatalistic moral decay.  Instead of following his society into such decline, Benedict withdrew from Roman society, eventually founding the Benedictine monastic order, which focused on Christian formation and hospitality to those in need.  Benedict’s rules for Christian formation have been passed down through the ages, and they will be our guide as we journey down this ancient path of Christian formation over the coming year.  This week will continue our journey by examining Rule 4.9: Practice the Golden Rule.

The Golden Rule is a command of Christ with which many of us are familiar.  Even those who are not followers of Jesus quote this Scripture.  Unfortunately, because Christ’s admonition to treat others as we would like to be treated is so familiar to our society, we have become desensitized to the power of this command.  The Golden Rule is just as radical today as it was when Jesus first gave it to us 2,000 years ago.  So, how do we recover the power of this command?

I believe part of the reason why this command does not carry the same weight as it once did is because we have lost our sense of identity.  In modern culture our identity and value are rooted in self instead of in God.  Thus, we pursue healthy self-images, we go on quests to find ourselves, and we seek to find our own truths.  But in so doing we are asking the broken to fix what’s broken.  We spend countless hours and resources seeking the answer to a question that has already been answered.  In John 3:16 we read that God loved each and every one of us so much—just as we are—that he sent his Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for us.  The same God who died for you and who spoke the universe into existence tenderly and lovingly knit you together in your mother’s womb.  Not only did he make you, he made you with a purpose in mind!

Such a truth should transform the way we view ourselves and others.  But there’s a catch—and it’s something that impairs our ability to really live by The Golden Rule.  As David Benner puts it, “It is not the fact of being loved unconditionally that is life changing.  It is the risky experience of allowing myself to be loved unconditionally.”  Living in a society where truth is ever shifting, where what makes us beautiful and valuable changes with the season, it is hard to let our guard down long enough to be truly known and loved.  However, it is not until we are able to do just that—allow ourselves to believe and embrace the unconditional love of God—that we can truly see ourselves as the beautiful, purposeful creations of God.  And it is not until we see and love ourselves as God loves us that we are truly able to unconditionally love others.  Once we fully embrace our identities as the image-bearers of God, then we are equipped to fully grasp what it means to treat others as we would like to be treated.


  1. What’s the difference between finding your esteem in self and finding it in God? Take a moment to consider your life, your habits, and your emotions.  What would you say has the biggest impact on your attitudes in those areas—God’s opinion, your opinion, or the opinion of others?
  2. Are you able to allow yourself to be loved unconditionally? Why or why not?
  3. Why is allowing yourself to be loved unconditionally by God so important to The Golden Rule?
  4. What tangible steps can you take to allow yourself to be loved unconditionally? How might embracing the truth of God’s love impact your relationships with others?