Four-Way Stops: Demonstrating the Golden Rule

By B.J. Funk

Have you heard of the Parable of the Four-way Stop Sign? It’s the Golden Rule in action. Four vehicles can reach the stop sign around the same time, from four different directions. Each stops, allowing the first that arrives to be the first to move forward. You stop and wait your turn. Another waits his turn. In this world of law suits running rampant because someone has violated another’s rights, the four-way stop brings a pleasant reminder that ‘doing unto others’ actually can work. I go through one every day on my way to work, and I’ve yet to see an angry motorist exit his car for a fist fight with the driver of the car who got there first.

We teach our children to take turns. While a child is bursting to always be first, we tell them they cannot. How many times has a parent said to small siblings, ‘You take a turn. Then give your brother a turn’? In homes that value guidance, the Golden Rule is taught daily. Yet, I grow weary of TV talk shows where grown-ups have forgotten what they were taught as children. Men and women engage in nightly battles of interruption to see who can be the loudest. Sometimes, I want to write them and tell them the Parable of the Four-Way Stop Sign!

Me, my and mine seem to have become the buzz words of our era, and the message of the Golden Rule gets pushed aside. Instead of the admonition of Jesus to ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,’ we often hear ‘Do unto others before they get a chance to do it unto you!’

Taking turns is not the only aspect of this rule. But it’s a beginning. Start a Matthew 7:12 Ministry in your Sunday School class, and watch the differences that can come when we treat others the way we like to be treated.