The Golden Rule for living

Living in harmony with God means living in harmony with God’s sons and daughters.

Many of us are familiar with Christ Jesus’ instruction “Whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them” (Matthew 7:12, New King James Version), known to most people today as the Golden Rule. Most faith traditions have their own version of this rule, because it conveys a universal moral truth. 

Following the Golden Rule is not just a good thing to do, it is necessary. Jesus explained that “this is the Law and the Prophets.” He wasn’t referring to Roman law or even rabbinical practice, but to spiritual law—God’s law—which he recognized as applicable in every age and for all time. 

Jesus knew and demonstrated that God is the one Mind, the Father of all, and that we are God’s children, His spiritual offspring. Living in harmony with God, the divine Mind, means living in harmony with God’s sons and daughters. To me, this is the essence of the Golden Rule, which Christians endeavor to follow.

I needed to see these individuals in their true light—as sons and daughters of God.

One of the tenets of Christian Science, which are found in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, says this: “And we solemnly promise to watch, and pray for that Mind to be in us which was also in Christ Jesus; to do unto others as we would have them do unto us; and to be merciful, just, and pure” (p. 497).

I have always tried to live my life accordingly. However, about 35 years ago I was in a situation where I neglected the Golden Rule. My son was in a serious auto accident while driving my car. His passenger, his best friend and a fellow gymnast, suffered a serious leg injury and severe facial cuts and bruises. The driver who hit them had fallen asleep at the wheel and appeared to be at fault. However, he claimed that he woke up at the last moment and tried to get back in his lane, but that my son’s car swerved into his lane to try to avoid a collision. Thus, the fault was in dispute. 

Several months later I was served with legal papers saying that my son and I were being sued by the friend and his family for personal injuries. We were told informally that they were suing because the other driver didn’t have much insurance. My feeling was that they were acting out of greed, and I felt resentful. 

My son and I met with a lawyer over the course of a year. Each time we met, the lawyer was concerned that a jury would be very sympathetic toward the injured party and make an award well above my insurance limits—possibly one that was in seven figures. I became very anxious and had difficulty sleeping. I was afraid that I would lose my house and be burdened with a huge debt. 

The situation looked grim, and my resentment toward the other party continued to grow. I called a Christian Science practitioner to pray about the case and my increasing anxiety. What he said helped me realize that I was not treating the other family as I would wish to be treated. I was judging their motives and holding on to the idea that they must be motivated by greed. I knew that this fear of mine and these negative assumptions about the family were poisoning the situation. I needed to see these individuals in their true light—that they were sons and daughters of God, and therefore reflected the divine nature, which is always worthy of love and respect. 

I also realized that, as an adherent of the tenets of Christian Science, I needed to be more merciful, just, and pure. Being merciful meant being forgiving and compassionate toward this family. Being just meant being open-minded and fair. Being pure meant being honorable and honest in recognizing the financial challenges facing the family and knowing that their needs would be met. 

These ideas coalesced into a moment of spiritual clarity. By the time the practitioner and I hung up, my resentment had melted away, and all anxiety was gone. Over the next several weeks, the practitioner and I continued praying to know that my thought was open to what God was telling me because I, and every one of God’s children, have “the mind of Christ” (I Corinthians 2:16). This Mind is always at peace because it is God. Reflecting this divine Mind, we cannot resist treating other people as we would want to be treated. We effortlessly and willingly do so. 

Three months later, when my son and I met with our lawyer, the lawyer was even more grim about the potential outcome. However, I remained totally free of anxiety. On the night before the trial, the situation changed suddenly, much to my lawyer’s amazement. We were able to settle with the family for an amount that my insurance covered. 

Mrs. Eddy makes the following statement in Science and Health: “When we realize that there is one Mind, the divine law of loving our neighbor as ourselves is unfolded; whereas a belief in many ruling minds hinders man’s normal drift towards the one Mind, one God, and leads human thought into opposite channels where selfishness reigns” (p. 205).

I am convinced that when my thought began to yield to God, and the Golden Rule became more than just a nice idea and began to guide my thoughts and actions, it was the turning point in the case for all concerned. It was a wonderful lesson to me that when consciousness is spiritualized, all those upon whom our thoughts rest feel uplifted and are receptive to God’s message of mercy, justice, and purity.

These words from a hymn in the Christian Science Hymnal sum up the whole experience for me:

Love, the Golden Rule of living;
Showeth forth the perfect Mind;
Love, our debt to God who gives it,
All compassion is, and kind;
Charity the law fulfilleth,
Mid the nations rancor stilleth;
Loving hearts in friendship blend,
One in Him, our heavenly Friend. 

(Based on words by Nikolaj F. S. Grundtvig, No. 178).

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