My mother used to make all of her cakes from scratch. That is, she would take a mixing bowl and add all the necessary ingredients for making a cake into the bowl and then use a mixer to blend all the ingredients together. Afterwards she would empty the contents of the bowl into a cooking pan and then place the pan in the oven and allow the ingredients to bake. Though she may have started with several bland ingredients such as eggs, milk, flour, and sugar, at the end of the baking process, she had one delicious cake that consisted of all those ingredients.
In the same way, the world in which we live can be compared to the mixture of ingredients in a mixing bowl. We live in a world made up of a diverse group of people that together form a society. There are those who strive to live peacefully with their fellow-man, and then there are those who seem to live at peace with no one, not even themselves. There are those who are wise enough to understand that there is a time to speak and a time to remain silent, and then there are those who feel that they must speak what is on their mind no matter the consequences. They take no thought of how what they say may be taken by those who hear, for they have never learned how to bridle their tongue. As a result, at times their tongues can become venomous and often sting like that of an asp. There are also those who feel that it is their duty and responsibility to be the rulers and judges of the world. These are they who are able to find fault in everyone else except themselves. And then there are those who seem to get enjoyment out of life by maltreating others.
In Hebrews 13:1 we are admonished to, “Let brotherly love continue.” And we are also reminded in 1 John 4:20, “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?”
With those thoughts in mind, how then should we treat another? Should we always be on the defensive to make sure that we are the first one to get our punches in before someone has a chance to throw any punches at us? If someone has mistreated us, should we be resentful of that person and hold an eternal grudge against them? Should we look for ways to retaliate against our enemies?
To all the above questions, the Apostle Paul would answer with a resounding “NO!” Instead his counsel to us is recorded in Romans 12:17-21:
Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.
In his letter to the Galatians, Paul further reminds us that, “all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Galatians 5:14).
The Savior Himself taught us, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44; 3 Nephi 12:44). He further taught us in Luke 6:29-36:
And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloke forbid not to take thy coat also. Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again. And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? For sinners also love those that love them. And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? For sinners also do even the same. And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? For sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.
As a boy growing up in my parents’ home, many were the times that I would hear my dear mother remind her four children of the “Golden Rule” which simply states, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you!” This very valuable life principle can be found in the Scriptures in Matthew 7:12, “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”, and in Luke 6:31, “as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.”
My mother knew that this was a very valuable life lesson that her children needed to learn as it would guide them in their future dealings with people whom they would meet. She taught us well that: (1) if we want to be loved in this world, we must first show our love towards others, (2) if we want to have friends in this world, we must first prove ourselves to be friendly, (3) if we do not want to be hated, despised, and rejected by others, we must avoid hating, despising, and rejecting others, and (4) if there are things that we would not like others to do to us, then we should not do those things to others either. In a nutshell, she taught us that love is a reciprocated process – love others and we would be loved in return – never return hate for hate, but if possible, live peacefully with all men, loving even and especially those who reject our love. Today, at 55 years of age, I have never forgotten that very valuable life lesson taught to me by beloved mother. I shall forever be grateful for her love for me and my siblings, and for teaching us, both through word and example, what it truly means to “Do unto others as you would have them to do unto you.”
In the first section of the Doctrine and Covenants, in verse 10, we read that “the Lord shall come to recompense unto every man according to his work, and measure to every man according to the measure which he has measured to his fellow man.” This principle puts a new light upon the commandment to love our neighbors as ourselves, and should convince us that it is not something that should be taken lightly. This principle should also help us to better understand the Golden Rule: “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” (3 Nephi 4:12). If we hope to enter His kingdom, we cannot regard these basic commandments as being optional, for He has said, “And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, this is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left” (Isaiah 30:21.)
We all recall these familiar words: “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven” (3 Nephi 14:21). If we are hypocritical and appear holy and righteous when indeed our hearts are evil, we throw our hope of salvation to the four winds, unless we truly repent. If we have not obeyed the weightier matters of the law, dealing justly with our fellowmen, He will surely say to us: “I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (3 Nephi 14:23). Further explanation is given to us in Alma 34:29, “If ye do not remember to be charitable, ye are as dross, which the refiners do cast out, (it being of no worth) and is trodden under foot of men.” This also helps us to better understand the words of the Apostle Paul as recorded in 1 Corinthians 13: 1-3 when he said,
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
And so, what manner of men ought we to be? The Savior Himself answers the question, “Verily I say unto you, even as I am” (3 Nephi 27:27). In all that we do in dealing with our fellowmen, may we take heart and follow the example set before us by the Savior. As we do, the Golden Rule to “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”, as well as, all other weightier matters of the law, will become more meaningful to us.
If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well. 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. – James 2:8; Matthew 7:12