Proverbs 14:34: “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin condemns any people.”

God has seen the rise and fall of many empires in the past and present. Most historians agree that an empire’s progressive corruption is responsible for its later downfall. Telltale signs of an empire on a downward trend are:

  • National self-absorbedness – The nation or empire does not care about the rest of the world. It only fosters matters of national self-interest.
  • Power hunger – The nation or empire wants to grow bigger and dominate more people instead of collaborating with other nations.
  • Favoritism of rich people – Little to no support of the poor and the disadvantaged combined with deference to the upper class causes division and leads to more crime.
  • Lack of interest in the next generation – Trashing the environment is an example of not acting in the best interest of our children and children’s children.

Driven to dominate and subdue, earthly empires leave behind a trail of blood. And so, the battle for dominance has been raging on for generations. To bring peace to our world, we need an empire of a different kind. Instead of the kingdom of man we need the kingdom of God, a kingdom based on righteousness.

Righteousness or ethical conduct is best summarized in the Golden Rule: Love your neighbor as yourself. Interestingly, the concept of the Golden Rule occurs in nearly every religion and ethical tradition of the world, which leads me to believe that God has been openly promoting the Golden Rule all throughout human history:

  • In ancient Egypt a late period papyrus (664 BC – 323 BC) contains an early negative affirmation of the Golden Rule: “That which you hate to be done to you, do not do to another.”
  • In ancient India the Sanskrit tradition says to treat others as you treat yourself.
  • In ancient Greece Socrates (436-338 BC) says: “Do not do to others that which angers you when they do it to you.”
  • Ancient Persia: (300-1000 AD) “That nature alone is good which refrains from doing to another whatsoever is not good for itself.”
  • In ancient Rome Seneca the Younger (4 BC – 654 AD) expressed the Golden Rule with regards to the treatment of slaves: “Treat your inferior as you would wish your superior to treat you.”
  • Lastly, in Judaism and Christianity the Bible spells out a number of rules of fair conduct, such as in Matthew 7:22: “In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” Specifically, in the Law of Moses we find the following instructions (Leviticus 19:18): “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.”

We uplift our nation when we live out the Golden Rule: Love your neighbor as yourself; and we can love our neighbor as ourselves when we know that God loves us.

All we need is a little faith to make a big impact. To get this particular point across, Jesus used the illustration of a minute mustard seed that grows into a lush tree. Faith in God is such a little mustard seed. It looks insignificant, but this little faith-seed transforms us from the inside and revolutionizes the world around us as a result.

A nation’s welfare is based on righteousness; and righteousness begins with a change of heart – one person at a time.

Matthew 7:12: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”

In one of my favorite stories, Jesus talks about a certain landowner who had a record year. His vineyard had produced triple the usual amount. Picking grapes around the clock, they were still falling behind schedule. Winter chills were in the air, and those grapes had to be harvested. So the landowner decided to hire additional pickers to bring the remaining crop in.

Early in the morning the landowner started hiring and offered a very generous pay. Highly motivated, the pickers went right to work. As the day wore on, more and more crop workers joined the crew – in the morning, mid-morning, around noon, in the afternoon, and late in the afternoon. – They had exactly one hour of daylight left when the last pickers arrived. Apparently the land owner had made up his mind to get every last grape picked by the end of the day.

And so it happened. The crop workers picked the vineyard clean right before the Sun went down, and they were done for the day. At a table near the exit the landowner sat down to hand out a full day’s of wages. Starting with his most recent hires, he gave the same pay to every worker. Celebration was in the air; everybody was happy – except for the guys who were hired first. They began to complain to each other: “This is not fair! We have done most of the work, why should everybody receive the same amount of pay?” – “Do you have a problem with my generosity?” The landowner asked the incensed crop workers, and this is how the story ends.

“Do to others what you would have them do to you” is the Golden Rule in a nutshell. Jealousy changes it to: “I’ve done this for you, now I expect you to do this for me.” That’s no Golden Rule, that’s blackmail.

Busy comparing, jealousy nourishes a constant undercurrent of unhappiness. Personally I think the Golden Rule does not work if we don’t know God. Basking in God’s love we are rich – and won’t have a problem with His generosity.