The week before last I was listening to a familiar talk show host on a Denver radio station as he interviewed an author. The two of them discussed a "rule" that is human nature.
"The Golden Rule," they said, is "I scratch your back; you scratch mine."
Uh...excuse me. That's not The Golden Rule.
The Golden Rule comes out of the Bible (Luke 6:31) and goes like this: "Do to others as you would have them do to you." (For those of us who were taught The Golden Rule years ago, it has more of a King James flavor. We learned it like this: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.")
This nowhere near "I scratch your back; you scratch mine"!
"I scratch your back; you scratch mine" is reciprocal. If you're nice to me, I'll be nice to you. If you help me, I'll help you. If I do something for you, then you'll do something for me, right?
The talk show host and his author-guest were right in saying this is human nature, but this is not the same as The Golden Rule.
The Golden Rule is quite the opposite. It goes against human nature. It says, "I want people to treat me well, therefore I'll treat you well."
Did you notice there is nothing in there that bases how I treat you on your behavior? How I treat others is not dependant on how they treat me. It starts with me...and my choices. The Golden Rule says, "I will treat you well regardless of how you treat me." This is anything but "I scratch your back; you scratch mine." This goes against human nature.
But then Jesus did that a lot--asking us to do what is directly against human nature. It's upside-down from what we would normally do. That's because the way we do things is corrupted by sin. In other words, it's not God's way that is upside-down. His way is right-side up. It's us who are upside-down.
God set the ultimate example in The Golden Rule. He does not treat us as we treat Him. He does not ignore us or treat us with disrespect. Instead He gave us the ultimate gift, the sacrifice we needed to pay for our sins. He didn't do this after we started treating Him nice. He did it while we hated Him.
And that truth just stands there. It's there whether people ignore it or disrespect it. God did not scratch our back because we did something for Him. Nor did He do something for us so we would be obligated to scratch His back--to do something for Him. He did it for us regardless of how we treat Him.