This principle that Jesus sets forth touches every aspect of one's life and is the best moral rule one can live by. It far exceeds its declaration in the negative sense; that is, "Do not do to others what you would not want them to do to you," which was taught by men such as Socrates, Buddha, Confucius, and Hillel. The rule, as stated by Jesus, is supreme in that it requires doing good to others and not merely refraining from doing them harm. It is not always easy to see things from another's perspective, but one should always try to do so and then direct his conduct accordingly.
This verse is certainly an appropriate conclusion to any instruction on moral duties because of its exceedingly broad scope. Interestingly enough, Jesus comments that this principle is really nothing more than a summary of the Old Testament! One who is practicing the Golden Rule will not murder, lust, commit adultery, divorce unscripturally, make false promises, hate others, judge unrighteously, etc. (cf. Matt. 5:17ff). Thus, for a Hebrew of Jesus' day to faithfully obey the Golden Rule was for him to live obediently under the Mosaic law. In so doing, he would exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees (cf. Matt. 5:20).
But, what about today? Let us consider some practical examples of how the Golden Rule should be applied in various circumstances of life. (1) I want to be able to trust in and confide in a friend. Thus, I should be trustworthy and never betray something told to me in confidence. (2) I do not want to be misquoted. Thus, I will be very careful not to misquote another person, or take out of context what he has said or written. (3) I would like for others to give me the benefit of the doubt. Thus, I must be inclined to believe the best about others and give them the benefit of the doubt. Truly, love "thinks no evil" (I Cor. 13:5). (4) I don't like for anyone to hurt my feelings, mock, or ridicule me. Thus, I will be very careful not to do such to others. (5) I like for my friends and family to show an interest in what I am interested in. Thus, I will genuinely reciprocate that behavior, even though their interests may be unimportant to me otherwise. (6) I should treat every woman with the same respect I would want other men to give to my wife. (7) I do not want others to listen to me with the idea of catching me in a mistake. Thus, I will not listen to others with that kind of critical attitude. (8) I should be as sympathetic to someone mourning the loss of a loved one as I would wish others to be sympathetic toward me in those circumstances. (9) I should show the same interest in saving a lost soul as I would want them to show me if I were lost. (10) When necessary, I will correct and rebuke others in a way in which I would want to be corrected or rebuked.
We could go on and on, for certainly there are an infinite number of applications for the Golden Rule in everyday life. There are numerous topics that we haven't even mentioned in regard to this principle. So, I strongly encourage you to take some time to really think about how you like or expect to be treated, and then make sure you're living up to your own standards in the way you behave toward others. It's not enough to simply avoid doing something wrong or harmful to another. We must also desire to do that which is good for them!