Golden Rule Courage
"There is so much good in the worst of us,
And so much bad in the best of us,
That it hardly becomes any of us
To talk about the rest of us."
THAT popular rhyme hits the nail squarely on the head. We are not to
judge others. The world would be a pleasanter dwelling place if we would
lay aside our critical attitude, and look on the best side of the men
and women about us. Instead, however, it sometimes seems as if we were
determined to forget all the good, and remember only the evil. Our
additions to the comments of others are not praise, but blame. We do not
seek to correct an unfavorable comment by saying, "But think of the good
there is in his life"; we insist on drowning merited praise by saying,
"But think how selfish he is; how careless of the comfort of others!"
That is the cowardly thing to do. And life calls for courage.
The worst thing about the maker of such comments is that the readier he
is to see--or imagine--faults in another, the more blind he is apt to
become to faults in himself. This inability to see his own shortcomings
would be ludicrous if it were not so pitiful. Yet these shortcomings are
apparent to all who know him. Jesus, who knew human nature, said, "Judge
not, that ye be not judged ... first cast out the beam out of thine own
eye; then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy
The courageous task of reforming ourselves seems prodigious when we
think what good opinions we have of ourselves and what poor opinions we
have of others, but the task is not impossible, for God has promised to
give us the help we need, and He will never disappoint us. An earthly
father knows how to give good things to his children; shall not the
Heavenly Father do as much and more?
Since we have such a Father, it is the least we can do to learn of Him
the true philosophy of life. Listen while He tells us what it is:
"All things, therefore, whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you,
even so do ye also unto them."
Impossible and impracticable? Let us see.
LOOKING OUT FOR OTHERS
The president of a big manufacturing concern, who is also its active
operating head, is quoted as saying that he finds a growing tendency
among young men to go after business by sharp practice when they cannot
get it any other way. They will "cut the corners of a square deal to
land an order." In applying for positions, he goes on to say, some young
fellows have tried to recommend themselves by telling how they got
orders for former employers by some neat trick.
"I have had to tell them, square and plain," he adds, "that there wasn't
any recommendation in that kind of talk with me. I have made up my mind
that I am going to write out some plain talks on righteousness and post
them up around the offices and shops where everybody will have a chance
to read them. I have explained my plan about these bulletins to a number
of other manufacturers, and I think several of them are going to do the
same thing. Besides the moral reasons for the policy, it's the only
policy to build up a sound business on. Take even the men who would be
willing to make profit for themselves by shady deals, and they all want
to buy goods for themselves of a firm that they can depend on. I think
our history this past year has proved the wisdom of it; business has
been rolling in from points that we never had an idea of getting
anything from. The Golden Rule works."
Nathan Strauss was once asked what contributed most to his remarkable
success. "I always looked out for the man at the other end of the
bargain," he said.
In 1901 the State of Wisconsin struck a beautiful bronze medal in honor
of Professor Stephen Moulton Babcock, the inventor of the milk test
machine. Professor Babcock, so one admirer says, "knew its value to
farmer and dairyman. He also knew its possibilities of fortune for
himself. This invention has 'increased the wealth of nations by many
millions of dollars and made continual new developments possible in
butter and cheesemaking.' All this Professor Babcock knew it would do
when he announced his discovery in a little bulletin to the farmers of
Wisconsin. But at the bottom of that bulletin he added the brief and
unselfish sentence, 'this test is not patented.' With that sentence he
cheerfully let a fortune go. He wanted his invention to help other
people, rather than make himself rich."
What a difference it would make if everyone should take the Golden Rule
as the motto for each day, asking Christ's help in living in accordance
with it! What a difference it would make in every home if father and
mother and all the sons and daughters should resolve to make theirs a
Golden-Rule household! The first thing necessary in bringing about such
a change in the home is for one member to make the resolution and to do
his best to live up to it. Others will follow inevitably when they note
his careful, unselfish life and helpful acts.
There is a Jewish tradition that a Gentile came to Hillel asking to be
taught the law, in a few words, while he stood on one foot. The answer
was given, "Whatsoever thou wouldst that men should not do to thee, that
do not thou to them." This was good, as far as it went, but there was
nothing positive about it. Christ's teaching supplies the lack, showing
what we are to do as well as what we are to leave undone. Christ always
gives the touch required to make old teachings glow with life.
SUCCEEDING BY COURAGEOUS SERVICE
When John E. Clough was a student working his way through college, he
was employed in a menial capacity at a hotel in a western town. His
employer was absent for a season and the student was compelled to take
charge of the hotel. He was successful, for he learned how to handle men
of many sorts, how to provide for their comfort, how to make them feel
that he was doing his best for them.
Years later, when he was a missionary in India, it became necessary for
him to plan for the temporary entertainment of the men and women who
came to the mission station by hundreds, and even by thousands, seeking
Christian baptism. For days it was necessary to provide for their
comfort. Many men would have been dismayed by the task, but to Dr.
Clough the problem presented was simple; he had only to do on a large
scale the very things which made his boyhood efforts at hotel-keeping
such a pronounced success.
Experience in a hotel is a good course of preparation for any young man,
whether he plans to be a missionary or to serve in any of the home
callings that demand the Christian's time and thought. However, it is
not possible for more than a very small proportion of young people to
serve a period in a hotel; so it will be helpful to them to read some of
the suggestions that have been made by a successful hotel proprietor.
Those who heed these suggestions are apt to be successful in dealing
with men and women anywhere.
It is worth while to note some of these rules:
"The hotel is operated primarily for the benefit and convenience of its
"Any member of our force who lacks the intelligence to interpret the
feeling of good will that this hotel holds toward its guests, cannot
stay here very long.
"Snap judgments of men often are faulty. The unpretentious man with the
soft voice may possess the wealth of Croesus.
"You cannot afford to be superior or sullen with any patron of the
"At rare intervals some perverse member of our force disagrees with a
guest as to the rightness of this or that.... Either may be right.... In
all discussions between hotel employees and guests, the employee is dead
wrong from the guest's standpoint, and from ours....
"Each member of our force is valuable only in proportion to his ability
to serve our guests.
"Every item of extra courtesy contributes towards a better pleased
guest, and every pleased guest contributes toward a better, bigger
Yet a young man should not have to go to a hotel to learn these lessons.
They were taught in the Book that every one of us should know better
than any other book in our library. Listen to these messages of the
Book, and compare them with the rules of the hotel:
"Not looking each of you to his own things, but each of you also to the
things of others....
"Be tenderly affectioned one to another, in honor preferring one
"Judge not that ye be not judged.... The rich and the poor meet
together: Jehovah is the maker of them all....
"Better it is to be of a lowly spirit....
"He that is slow in anger appeaseth strife....
"I am among you as he that serveth....
"Ye are the light of the world...."
The best book for anyone who is trying to be a success in the world is
the Bible, for the Bible teaches how to serve, and he who has the
courage best to serve his fellows in the name of the great Servant is
the most successful man.
SERVICE BY SYMPATHY
It has been said that, while the word "sympathy" does not occur in the
Bible, the idea is there; it is in bud in the Old Testament, but it is
in full blossom in the New Testament. Christ was always sympathetic. He
felt for the disturbed host at the wedding; His heart went out to
Zaccheus; He wept with Mary and Martha; He listened to the plea of the
blind and the lepers; He was deeply stirred as He saw the funeral
procession of him who was the only son of his mother, a widow.
An eloquent preacher was talking to his people of this glorious flower
of the Christian life. "Beholding the lily," he said, "sympathy breathes
a prayer that no untimely frost may blight the blossom; beholding the
sparrow, sympathy fills a box with seeds for the birds whose fall 'the
Heavenly Father knoweth'; beholding some youth going forth to make his
fortune, sympathy prays that favorable winds may fill these sails and
waft the boy to fame and fortune. Do the happy youth and maiden stand
before the marriage altar, the Christian breathes a prayer that love's
flowers may never fall, and that 'those who are now young may grow old
One of the pleasing stories told of Richard Harding Davis, the writer
and war correspondent, was of an incident when real sympathy transformed
In May, 1898, when the Massachusetts troops were about to go from
Florida to Cuba, Mr. Davis entered the encampment as the men were
saddened by the first death in the company. At once his cheerful face
took on a subdued look. The next day proved to be "a broiling dry hot
day which set the blood sizzling inside of one," but Davis tramped for
two hours in the search of flowers. Then he learned that eight miles
away he might secure some. Though no one was abroad who did not have to
be, Mr. Davis started on a sixteen-mile horseback trip. Securing the
flowers, he brought them back and made a cross of laths on which he tied
them. Then came the search for colors to make the flag. Again he tramped
a weary distance, but at last he found red, white and blue ribbon. That
night he laid his tribute on the casket.
An American author who lived several generations before Davis was noted
for his sympathetic attitude to the suffering. Richard Henry Dana was
compelled when a young man to take a voyage around Cape Horn on a
sailing ship. That classic of the sea, "Two Years Before the Mast," was
one of the results of that experience. Another result was that when the
author became a lawyer in Boston, his knowledge of ships made him a
favorite advocate in nautical cases. His knowledge of the sufferings of
the men before the mast, who were so often abused, was responsible for
his taking their part in many an unprofitable case. He had learned by
bitter experience what the sailors under a brutal captain had to suffer,
and any mistreated seaman had in him a firm friend and a fearless
The truest sympathy comes from those who, like Dana, know what suffering
means. An author in Scotland, who lived in Dana's generation, never
heard of the American friend of seamen, but he had the same spirit, born
of his own suffering. He was not accustomed to complain, and was always
reticent in speaking of himself. Once, however, for the sake of a
friend, he allowed himself to tell of his own life:
"With all your sorrows I sympathize from my heart," he wrote. "I have
learned to do so through my own sufferings. The same feeling which made
you put your hand into your pocket to search among the crumbs for the
wanting coin for the beggar, leads me to search in my heart for some
consolation for you. The last two years have been fraught to me with
such sorrowful experiences that I would gladly exchange my condition for
a peaceful grave. A bankrupt in health, hope and fortune, my
constitution shattered frightfully, and the almost certain prospect of
being a cripple for life before me, I can offer you as fervent and
unselfish a sympathy as ever one heart offered another. I have lain
awake, alone, and in darkness, suffering severe agony for hours, often
thinking that the slightest aggravation must make my condition
unbearable and finding my only consolation in murmuring to myself the
words patience, courage and submission."
That, surely, is a part of what Robert Louis Stevenson meant when, as
one element in his statement of the ideal for the perfect life, he named
"to be kind." True kindness is impossible without sympathy.
So long as there is so much real sympathy in the world there can be no
place for the maunderings of a pessimist. Every sight of a man, a woman
or a child whose life is beautified by the outgoing of sympathy is an
effective message of courage, of cheer, of hope.
DOING BUSINESS FOR OTHERS
A Boston boy, Samuel Billings Capen, wanted to become a minister. Yet it
did not seem possible to secure the special training which was
essential. Instead of being discouraged, he determined to go into
But he resolved that he would be a business man of God. From the first
he carried his Christian principles with him into the carpet business.
His faithful work as office boy was a part of his testimony for Christ,
and when--within five years--he became a member of the firm, he was
known as one of the solid Christian men of the city. Always his duty to
Christ came first. In the words of his biographer, "There was not a
moment when he would not have left the firm with which he was associated
had the business demanded any compromise with the best things of
Once he spoke to young men of these few things essential to vital
"The first is fidelity--that kind of conscientiousness which performs
the smallest details well.
"The second condition is earnestness. There is no chance for the idle or
"The third condition is integrity--not that lower form which refuses to
tell a downright falsehood, but that higher form of conscientiousness
which will not swerve a hair's breadth from the strictest truth, no
matter what the temptation; the courage to lose a sale rather than to do
that which is mean or questionable.
"The fourth condition I would name is purity of heart and life. I do not
believe it is possible for any man to be true and pure and faithful in
every respect without help from above. We need the personal help of a
Thirteen years after beginning his service as apprentice, Mr. Capen's
health failed. For many months his life was in danger. God used the
sickness to draw the young man nearer to Himself. "Compelled to remain
for months in absolute idleness, unable to talk to his friends except to
a limited extent, he made the solemn resolve with his God that if his
health was restored he would never shirk any work nor complain of any
task that might be presented to him."
For a generation he was not only a leader in business, but he was as
conspicuous in his service of the State as in his services in the
Why did he succeed? He was not a genius. His health was poor. He was
not mentally brilliant. In these respects he was just an average man.
But in other respects he was above the average. He had the courage to
give himself in service of his fellows. "He believed that conscious
fellowship with God is the foundation of every strong life."
A life like that influenced for good everyone about him. Many men were
drawn by him into the paths of righteousness. Others were held back by
him from ways of evil. Once he presided over a public meeting which
corrupt politicians had planned to capture for their own purpose. But
they made no attempt to carry out their plans. "How could we succeed
with that man watching us?" they asked their friends.
It is good to be a minister of the gospel. But for every minister the
world needs hundreds of men who are possessed of Samuel B. Capen's
courageous eagerness to live for God in the midst of business cares.
PRAYING AND HELPING
A business man entered the office of a friend just as the friend was
hanging up the receiver of the telephone. There were tears in the eyes
of the man at the desk as he turned from the instrument to take the hand
of his visitor.
"I'm afraid you have had bad news," the visitor said, deciding that it
was not a propitious time to talk of the matter on which he had come.
"No bad news--the best of news," was the reply. "Now see if you don't
agree with me. This morning my wife, who is always thinking of other
people, remarked that it was too bad my pastor's wife could not have a
vacation this summer; she shows the need of it because of a severe
strain that had been on her. Yet we knew that she could not look forward
to a vacation.
"'Let's pray about it,' my wife suggested, just before we knelt at the
family altar. We prayed then; we've been praying since. And the answer
has come quickly. My wife was on the telephone just now; she told me
that the postman had brought a letter from a California friend of whom
we had all but lost sight. Fifteen years ago we lent him a sum of money
which we never expected to see again. Yet the letter contained a check
for the amount of the loan!
"'What shall we do with the money?' my wife asked.
"'I wonder if you are not thinking the same thing I am,' I said to her.
"'Yes, isn't it the answer to our prayer?' she replied. 'I'm going to
take it to our pastor's wife right now.'"
The business man was thoughtful as he passed from his friend's office.
Just a few hours before he had been told by an acquaintance of his
longing, when on a long trip, to have such a glimpse of the life of one
of the many passengers near him that he would be able to help that
passenger before the end of the journey. The wish was a prayer. Not long
after the making of the prayer he noted a man who was so restless that
he could not sit still. Every moment or two he looked at his watch, then
studied his time table. Evidently he was disturbed because the train was
"I hope you are not to lose a connection in Chicago?" the observing
traveler said to him.
"Yes, I'll miss it--and my baby is dying five hours from Chicago," was
the response, given with a sob.
The time was short, but there was opportunity for the interchange of a
few words, then for a conference with the conductor, who wired asking
that the connecting train--at another station and on another road--be
held for ten minutes.
A week later came a note from the happy father. His babe was rapidly
recovering. "And I'll never forget the words you spoke to me in my
agony," he wrote. "God is more real to me since our talk as we went into
Chicago. You put heart into me."
GIVING THAT COUNTS
An old fable tells of a good man to whom the Lord said he would give
whatever he most desired. Besought by friends to ask great things, he
refused. Finally he asked that he might be able to do a great deal of
good without ever knowing it. And so it came about that every time the
good man's shadow fell behind him or at either side, so that he could
not see it, it had the power to cure disease, soothe pain and comfort
When he walked along, his shadow, thrown on the ground on either side or
behind him, made arid paths green, caused withered plants to bloom, gave
clear water to dried up brooks, fresh color to pale little children, and
joy to unhappy mothers.
But he simply went about his daily life, diffusing virtue as the star
diffuses light and the flower perfume, without ever being aware of it.
And the people, respecting his humility, followed him silently, never
speaking to him about his miracles. Little by little, they even came to
forget his name, and called him only "The Holy Shadow."
It would be a splendid thing if all would learn the lesson taught in the
fable--that the man who would do good should have the courage to be
unconscious of the good he is doing, and so as unlike as possible the
rich woman of whom some one has told, who turned a deaf ear to every
petition for help unless there was a subscription paper circulated and
she was given the chance to head the list. "But no poor person came into
her house who said, 'May God reward you!' She never experienced the
pleasure of making a poor woman on the back stairs happy with a cup of
warm coffee, or hungry children with a slice of bread and butter, or an
infirm man with a penny. Perhaps she satisfied her conscience by saying
that she did not believe in indiscriminate charity. Frequently that
excuse is given conscientiously but how often the real meaning is, 'I do
not believe in charity that does not make people talk of my
In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus taught the folly of giving in such a
manner. The lesson was enforced by two pictures--a man standing on the
street, giving alms to the poor, while attention is called to his
generosity by the sounding of a trumpet which everyone must hear, and a
man whose giving is so much a matter of secrecy that he does not think
of it a second time. There is no rolling of it over as a sweetmeat under
his tongue, as if to say, "What a generous man I am!" Nor is there any
motive in the giving but pure desire to glorify God. All this is
properly included in the interpretation of "Let not thy left hand know
what thy right hand doeth."
A magazine editor offered a prize for the best account by a reader of
the adjustment of income and expenditure made necessary by the vaulting
prices of recent years. The prize was awarded to one whose revised
budget showed the revision downward of many items, and the elimination
of two or three other items. The comparison of the budgets was
interesting and helpful; most readers would be apt to approve heartily
all but one of the changes and eliminations. This was the exception:
the earlier budget allowed five dollars per month for "church and
charity," while the revised budget made no mention of the claims of
others, no provision for the privilege of giving.
If you had been a judge in that contest, would you have felt like giving
the prize to a paper that suggested such an omission? Suppose you had
the task of cutting your budget, would you feel like revising downward
the provision for giving? What do you think of the statement of a famous
business man who, having insisted in time of financial reverses on
making gifts as usual, said to objecting friends, "Economy should not
begin at the house of God." Why not let economy begin there?
What answer would have been given to such a query by the poor tenement
dweller in New York City who, though compelled to earn the support of
her family by scrubbing floors in a great office building, set aside a
dollar and a half per week for the care of four orphans in India who but
for her gifts would have starved?
What answer would have been made by the Polish Jew, long resident in
America, who directed in his will that regular gifts be made at
Christmas and Easter to the Christians as well as to the Jews of his
home town in Europe? That bequest was made in memory of days and nights
of terror when, as a boy, he hid in the house from the fiendish
persecutions of so-called Christians who thought Easter and Christmas
favorable times for the intimidation of the Jews. What would he have
said to the idea of economy that forgets the needs of others and makes
no provision for satisfying the hungry, to help the suffering?
What would have been the comment of Him who told the parable of the rich
man who built great barns to hold the surplus product of his lands,
thinking that there was nothing better in life than to eat, drink, and
be merry; who compared the gifts of the rich man and the poor widow; who
commended the love of the woman who poured out the costly ointment upon
His head; who promises glorious recognition to those who give, in His
name, to any who are in need?
A successful manufacturer, whose eyes have been opened to the folly of
attempting to save by cutting off gifts, has written a series of essays
on "The Business Man and His Overflow," his purpose being to show that
happiness is dependent on helpfulness. "Who is the most successful
business man?" he asks. "The man who has the largest bank account? Not
necessarily.... The most successful business man is he who renders the
greatest service to mankind and whose life is most useful."
Two paths are open to us: we can give, and we can give more, or we can
economize in giving until we give nothing.
Which is the path of courage?
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