We know that at the heart of Jesus’ message, and really at the heart of true Judaism, is do unto others as you would have them do unto you. There’s a great apocryphal story relating to this about one of the greatest rabbis of all time, Rabbi Hillel. He lived a generation before Jesus, and his influence continued in Judaism in Jesus’ day. In this story, Rabbi Hillel had an opposing rival: Rabbi Shammai.
Legend has it there was a young man who was considering becoming a Jew, but first, he asked Rabbi Shammai, “If you can explain to me all of the Torah while standing on one leg, I will become a Jew.” Rabbi Shammai was put off by his request and chased him off. Then he went to Rabbi Hillel and asked the same question. Rabbi Hillel gently rebuked him, but then answered, “Don’t do what is hateful to your neighbor. Listen to this wisdom, this is the whole of the Torah, now go and study.” This is often called “The Silver Rule,” which both Cicero the Roman statesman and Confucius the Chinese philosopher said. So, the Silver Rule was, “Don’t do to others what you wouldn’t want them to do to you.”
Friend, as a great Rabbi, Jesus took this famous saying of His day, and He changed it just a little to make it more impactful. Instead of saying “Don’t do,” what does He say? “Do to others what you’d want them to do to you,” and this becomes The Golden Rule. It’s having eyes to see, ears to hear, noticing the hurting, brokenhearted, or one in need of prayer. Let those situations guide you to do what you would want to be done to you. You can position yourself to be merciful and slow in judgment. These are the words of life!