GOLD VS PLATINUM

I recently watched 7 hours of DEI video training sessions as a requirement for work. Now while this is a necessary endeavor in our world today, I found them lacking in riveting content. There were nuggets of truth along the way that gave me better insight, but a common theme that I noticed was the dismissal of the Golden Rule which at once sent up a red flag in the ‘man’s way of thinking versus God’s ultimate authority’ section of my brain.

You are probably familiar with it but in case you need a reminder, Jesus stated, “whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them” or “do to others as you would like them to do to you” (emphasis mine), (Matt. 7:12; Luke 6:31, ESV). This has become known as the golden rule. I have heard that interpreted as thinking of something you wish someone would do for you and taking the initiative and doing it for them.

The platinum rule, which I had never heard before, states that we should treat others the way ‘they want to be treated.’ This stood out to me like a sore thumb. I began to research where it originated. I first found credit given to Dave Kerpen, who wrote it in his book, The Art of People in 2016. But then I found another source who credited Tony Alessandra and Michael O’Conner in a 1996 publication of their book by the very title, The Platinum Rule.

I began to pray for discernment and search Scriptures for God’s truth on the matter because frankly, anything that tries to dismiss the Word of God does not sit well with me. When reading the verses in the Bible, we must also look at the verses before and after, not just pull one verse out as a stand-alone. When you read the pre-cursor and what follows, we find that love is the most crucial factor to the equation. Treating people, the way we want to be treated comes from a place of love, which should come naturally to those believers who love God with all their hearts, minds, and souls and who love their neighbor as themselves (Luke 10:27). We must go beyond this one verse to realize the lesson is love; a fundamental ethic that governs all behavior (Rom. 12:14-21). Jesus is our model through His self-sacrificial love for others.

If people’s priorities are out of order, then they may need a different guide, such as the man-made platinum rule, to know how to treat others. But if we are in alignment with God, it will come naturally to treat others with love. I read a list Mr. Kerpen wrote that included 101 things for which he was grateful. I am not putting him down and am happy that he is grateful for so many things including God, but it did reveal where his priorities lie as God made the list at number 55. According to his list, even the sun and planet made the # 2 slot. My question is, who created the sun and planet? Even the Mets made it on the list above God at # 26.

If we are not loving God more than anything else, and loving people as ourselves, then maybe we can accept the platinum rule. But not all of us are in that category. Instead of dismissing one over the other, it could be an ‘AND’ instead of a ‘either/or” concept. Although the platinum rule is not biblical, and Jesus’ own words are conclusive and attribute to the Golden Rule; there could be one rule for believers who follow Christ and one for the secular population who haven’t experienced the love of Christ or understand how to love others as Christ’s example tells us to even love our enemies as ourselves.

But in my book, there is only one set of rules, One God, One authority, and One Word, but man will always attempt to make his own rules to suit himself when he doesn’t understand or accept God’s rule and authority.

I believe we can use this filter to decide the best way to treat others: Ask ourselves if it is God-honoring to both parties? Are we seeking the approval of man or God (Gal. 1:19)? Love is the key factor, and the Golden Rule demonstrates this best since we have Christ to model it after and can share the love that God bestows on us to everyone we meet.

In all fairness, I do not know these authors, nor have I read their books. I am only using the tiny bit of information I netted in my search as a basis for my comments. You could say I literally judged a book by its cover. However, the point I want to make is that we should not be so quick to dismiss God’s Word, especially those spoken directly by Jesus, for something fabricated by man. I read that book daily.

NEW REALITY

On an early morning run this week, I met an ominous sky lurking over the horizon and a wind that was brewing something that would surely send the leaves flurrying to the ground. I realized my last chance this season to capture the rich array of fall colors that lined my streets, was in that very moment. So, I ran back to the house and grabbed my phone so I could finish my run as well without lugging the larger camera around my neck. The bright yellows and oranges stood out even more prominent behind a brilliant fuchsia skirt that adorned their trunks.

Having snapped several photos at different angles, I headed back in a sprint towards the house, thinking about how these trees may very well be barren the next time I see them. The sharp contrast of winter is right around the corner and with it will come death to many plants, trees, and flowers. But Spring always follows and brings with it new life. God is always faithful and even in nature we see how things must die to receive restoration; made new in a different season of their life.

We see it in other parts of God’s creation as well such as the caterpillar whose transformation is remarkable. An entirely new creature that lives a vastly different life than the caterpillar. It is the same with us. We must die to self to receive the new life Christ offers that creates a new season of life now and an eternal Springtime season to come (Eph. 4:20-24, ESV). We can experience transformation that makes us feel like the butterfly living quite a different life than the one we lived. As the Bible Project put it in a video I watched recently, “the gospel is an announcement about Jesus that opens up a new reality.” In our new reality, we receive a new perspective, and a new life that changes everything, for the better. I am grateful every day for my new reality.

THE SON IS IN MY EYES

Recently, on a mid-morning run, after the sun was beaming brightly through the crisp fall air, I was headed directly into its rays. All I could do was focus on the road directly in front of me as it was too bright to see very far ahead. I was reminded that when we keep the ‘Son’ as the focus of our gaze, it is easier to stay in His presence in the present moment without looking too far into the future and worrying about what is next.

Jesus tells us not to worry about tomorrow, it will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough to today (Matt. 6:34, NLT). Some days this is easier than others, but when I can accomplish it, my day goes so much smoother. I can leave everything in God’s hands and be present in the moment, watching for my next cue from God, while I stay in step with the Spirit (Gal. 5:25) doing God’s will.

We can even find ourselves worrying too much about being in God’s will and making the right choices. But we are not to worry about that either. When we are doing our best to follow Jesus and being obedient, we don’t need to worry about doing God’s will, because He will reveal it to us. On days when I am in alignment with God, the sun is a little brighter, my morning tea a little sweeter, and my oatmeal a little more savory.  

Anything in our lives that does not align and is disobedient to God blocks the Holy Spirit’s work and we can feel disconnected. It is not God who has left us, but rather us who has strayed away from God. These times are sometimes necessary for us to realize that when we choose God each day as the One we will serve and not attempt to control things on our own, that is when we are more productive. When we recognize the patterns and that taking time to spend with God helps us through our day; we can choose to do it each morning as we arise to face the Son. One of my professor’s says his day is too busy not to spend time with God. It is all a matter of perspective, being intentional and slowing down long enough to listen and allow God’s love light to shine on our face.

ELIJAH

the story of a faithful prophet

In I Kings, we are first introduced to Elijah as a prophet from Tishbe of Gilead. His prophetic role placed him in confrontation to the kings of Israel and isolation from others of like faith, during the split of the northern and southern kingdoms, after the downfall of Jerusalem around the ninth century. It was time of great despair for God’s people. Doubt set in for many and they began to question God’s existence and promises. Many kings were worshipping other gods, like Baal. Elijah’s faithful obedience sets the backdrop for multiple miracles performed by God to demonstrate He is still in control, crush idolatry and the work of evil king Ahab who provoked God more than any other king, along with his wife Jezebel, who influenced him greatly. Perhaps, even more remarkable than the miracles themselves is the intimate relationship he shared with the Lord. Something still available to us today.

Even in his faithfulness, he was still human and had his faults. One may tend to aspire to be more like Elijah or other biblical characters and look to them as a role model. We can do the same with people around us today. I know of a leader at church that could easily fit this bill in my book, with his humble obedience and words of wisdom, however, we should only strive to be more like Jesus. We should try to be more like the One reflected in the good parts of others’ lives, a not the person themselves. All humans have flaws, but we can also learn from the mistakes of others. With Elijah, in his isolation, we see that he allowed his feelings of loneliness and depression take over and he believes he is the only person left who is faithful to the Lord. But God shows him that there are still others who have persevered, seven thousand to be exact. God comes to find Elijah hiding in a cave, where he ran for fear of his life from the queen, who threatened to kill him. God sends a mighty windstorm so strong it shook the rocks, then he sends an earthquake, and then a fire. But God was not in any of those things. Afterwards, Elijah hears a gentle whisper and knows it is the voice of the Lord. He covers his face and stands at the entrance of the cave. God was showing Elijah that he does not only reveal himself in powerful miracles, if that is all we are looking for, we will often miss Him, as He is most likely found in the stillness of a gentle whisper of a humble heart.

God instructs Elijah to anoint Elisha as his predecessor before he takes him to heaven by a whirlwind. He is one of only three people mentioned in the Bible taken to heaven in bodily form. Enoch before him and Jesus after him. This must have been a great honor to be chosen to be with God and whisked away to heaven by chariots of fire. Elisha asked for and was granted a double share of Elijah’s spirit. It was granted because his motives were pure. He did not selfishly ask for his own gain but to do more for God. We too can ask for great things but should examine our motives to make sure they are pure.

We see God give John the Baptist the power and spirit of Elijah, this fulfills the prophesy of Malachi when he says Elijah will come before the day of the Lord. Later in the NT, Elijah is mentioned and appears with Moses on Mount Sinai to talk to Jesus, where Peter, John and James were invited to go so God could show them who Jesus really was. Moses represents the law; Elijah represents the writings of the prophets (the entire Old Testament) and Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah with divine authority who fulfills both the law and the prophets and is greatest of them all. As Jesus explains in Matthew 5:17, “Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or writings of prophets. I came to accomplish their purpose.”(emphasis added) We can only understand the OT in the light of Jesus.

Mount Sinai is a sacred place where God met all three at different times and at the same time in Luke 9:28-36, ESV. All three of them, at different times, fasted in the wilderness for 40 days and 40 nights. If we take time to search them out, we can find similarities in the lives of biblical characters who lived at different times. But it is important to remember to look for how each one points us to Christ and ask how we can apply those lessons in our lives today.

To recap the miracles God performed through Elijah:

  • God provided food to Elijah by ravens
  • Widow’s food multiplied
  • Widow’s son raised to life
  • Altar and sacrifice consumed my fire
  • Calling fire from heaven upon the second 50 soldiers
  • Jordan river parted
  • Transported to heaven

Big lessons can be taken away from the study of biblical characters that are often overlooked. I have said this before and believe it to be true, as we see in the life of Elijah, if God brings us to it, He will bring us through it. Through faithful obedience we can trust God to provide what we need to carry us through anything He commands us to do.

References:

Brand, C. ed., (2015) Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, B & H Publishing.

Chronological Life Application Study Bible, Tyndale Publishers

ESV Study Bible, Crossway

NLT Study Bible, Tyndale Publishers

Topical ESV Bible, Tyndale Publishers