Three Rules of Human Conduct
Happy Sabbath everyone! It is my hope that everybody is experiencing the great blessings of the Sabbath. Last Sabbath Pr. Migombo addressed a very important subject. He talked about forgiveness which I believe was a great blessing to everybody who read it. Today we will discuss the principal rules of conduct under the title: The Three Rules of Human Conduct. Human being conducts are categorized under three rules which are: Iron Rule, Silver Rule, and Golden Rule. Let us take time to examine each one in brief. For this exercise I will be using the New King James Version but you are free to use any version you are comfortable with.
Before we proceed let’s pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit: Dear Father God our Creator and Redeemer we come before you, realizing that we are sinful and you are Holy! May you grant us the Holy Spirit to brighten our minds so that we may understand your Word. This is our prayer in Jesus' name. Amen!!
The iron rule is the one which employs power and force. It is from this rule we have the saying that “Might makes right” or some people say “might is right.” By applying this rule of human conduct, a person is right to do what he or she is big enough to do. A person may use his or her authority or power to do what he or she wants. Through this rule we can also relate with the saying “survival of the fittest.” It is unfortunate sometimes even people of God employ this rule in their lives. Let examine the episode of King David concerning Bathsheba and Uriah the Hittite. 2 Samuel 11:2-27. This is one of the saddest stories recorded in the Holy Scripture. Examine carefully vv 2- 4. David inquired the information about the woman and he was told that she was “Bathsheba the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite.”
What is funny in this episode is that after King David got the right information about the woman as the wife of Uriah the soldier, he ordered messengers to bring her so that he could sleep with her. The knowledge that she was a wife of the soldier did not hinder the King to commit adultery with her. Under normal circumstances someone would think that after the king had learned the truth about Bathsheba he could say that I wish this beautiful lady was unmarried I could marry her. But David used his power as the King to get her.
After realizing that Bathsheba was pregnant he wanted to hide his evil by bringing Uriah back home from the battle so he could sleep with his wife (Bathsheba) to destroy the evidence of his evil. After seeing that this plan did not work well according to his desire, he created a scheme (plot) of killing Uriah. David could decide to do otherwise but he decided to follow the iron rule that “might makes right.” He could ask forgiveness from Uriah but he wrote a letter to Joab who was by then the commanding officer of the army to kill him. In his letter he was so specific, “set Uriah in the forefront of the hottest battle and retreat from him, that he may be struck down and die” (v.15).” Instead of David planning how his army could conquer the enemy, he is planning for his own soldier to be killed because of his personal interest (vv14-17). To make the long story short Uriah was killed and David took Bathsheba to be his wife.
Think about the Holocaust: It is believed that about 11 million people were killed. Out of 11 million 6 million were Jews (http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Holocaust /history.html). These people were killed just because of the hatred of Hitler. Under the iron rule people can do anything. Under the iron rule there is no fear of the Lord. Under this rule people do not have mercy towards each other.
The silve rule states that “do not do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” It is stated in a negative form. It discourages a person to do harm to another person. It does not encourage a person to be engaged in positive behavior. The story has been told that one person, a gentile, went to a Shammai and he said to him convert me on the condition of teaching me the entire Torah while I am standing on one foot. “Shammai pushed him aside with the measuring stick he was holding.” The same fellow went to Hillel, and Hillel converted him: “What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbour, that is the whole Torah, while the rest is commentary thereon, go and learn it” (Shabbath 31a, Andrews Study Bible, p. 1258).
We can summarize the second rule by saying do not inconvenience anybody. It helps to reduce the
crime in the society.
This is the rule which has been advocated by many believers of various religions. But here I want us to come to the sermon of Jesus on the Mount and to consider His statement “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12). The golden rule is almost the same as the silver rule except that the golden rule emphasizes on positive (doing, not avoiding). In other words, the silver rule is positive while the golden rule is active.
Jesus was teaching from known to unknown by letting His followers not simply keep from “doing to others that which they did not want done to themselves. They were to treat others in the same way they would like for these others to treat them.” (Layman’s Bible Book Commentary by Clair M Crissey p. 47)
According to Jesus, the Old Testament depends on the way we treat each other. This is the summary of the “obligations of the second table of the Decalogue,” and it is another statement of “the great principle of loving one’s neighbor” (SDA Bible Commentary V. 5 p. 356)
Jesus says that this is the Law and the Prophets which meant that the golden rule is the essence of the Holy Scripture. The golden rule puts emphasis on love. John says that “we know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death. (1 John 3:14). We should love one another as he commanded us (1 John 3:23).
The Decalogue is summarized in one word which is “love”. Love for God and love for humanity. Today we have considered the golden rule in respect to the love of human being (horizontal relationship). Paul emphasizes on love by saying that “Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.” (Romans 13:8).
What the golden rule wants to teach us is that the spirit of the law is love, Owe no one anything except to love one another. While Christians are encouraged to live without debt Paul is encouraging them to have a debt of love. Nichol points out that “Mutual love is an infinite obligation. It is a debt one should ever be seeking to discharge but that will never be fully paid so long as there remains an opportunity for doing good to one’s fellow men. (SDA Bible Commentary V6, p. 628).
Ellen G. White on the same note asserts that “in association with others, put yourself in their place, Enter into their feelings, their difficulties, their disappointments, their joys, and their sorrows. Identify yourself with them, and then do to them as, were you to exchange places with them, you would wish them to deal with you. This is a true rule of honesty” (Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, p. 134).
Dear Beloved Christian which rule do you want to choose to live and to be identified with it? Do you want to follow the iron rule, the silver rule or the golden rule? The choice is yours! I wish we could by God’s grace choose the golden rule; the rule which Jesus is advocating.
Now Lord, your people have decided to live according to the Law and Prophets; to love each other as you have commanded us .I ask your Holy Spirit to help us so that we can be able to live according to your standard. I know it is difficult and impossible by our own power but by your grace we can do it. Help us to represent you well in all aspects of our life. Help us to love people the way you love us. We pray this in Jesus name. Amen!
Preacher: Protas Makimu
Painter: Lars Justinen