Have you ever thought what The Golden Rule does not mean? If you haven’t, you can not only be robbing yourself of joy, but festering bitterness.

You were probably taught what’s known as The Golden Rule as far back as grade school.

On the surface, it means to treat others like you would like to be treated.

The Golden Rule

The Golden Rule does not say: Do to others as you would expect them to do to you.


Expectations are strong beliefs we have. When you go to a restaurant, you expect good service.

When you are planning for any event or vacation, you have high expectations of what you will experience.

When you treat someone the way you want to be treated, be honest, you expect them to treat you the same.

But what happens if your restaurant server disappears, the order takes forever, and the food is lukewarm at best? When the hotel you booked with the fabulous view is under construction (which was never mentioned) and there are jack hammers pounding all day.

Then there is a phone call, text, or email that goes unanswered, or was answered in a way you weren’t expecting.

What do you want to do to others then?

Anger, disappointment, and bitterness can hijack your peace. That bitterness can fester inside of you and damage a relationship.

The Golden Rule Does Not Mean Keeping Score

These words spoken by Jesus are telling us to do unto others without expecting anything in return. That’s not easy when we mentally keep score with our own rules like, I called you last so it’s your turn to call me. We expect relationships to be a two-way street. I do for you. You do for me.

This also doesn’t mean doing something for someone that you would love have done to you and expecting them to love it in return. We can’t read minds. For example, if Robert threw a surprise birthday party for me, that would be so generous on his part. But I don’t want to be the person for whom a surprise party is thrown!

The Golden Rule is a beautiful rule. It can be a difficult rule if you let expectations get in the way. To do unto others as you would have them do to you is exercising love, empathy and compassion. The world can always use a lot of that, and it can certainly use it right now.

Of course, healthy relationships are about give and take. If you find yourself constantly giving without receiving, you need to have a conversation with that person. Sometimes the other person may not be self-aware of their actions. Or, you may have to let go of that relationship.

As with all the teachings of Jesus, they are simple, but not easy.

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If you like this post, I send out an email each Monday with a verse like this and something to meditate on during the week. I like to say that joy is a inside job. The more we understand what steals our joy, the more joy we can hold onto. I love hearing from my readers and would love for you to be one of them!

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