Well, the same rule they are disregarding is the one you should be following. It is very basic, and almost so simple that you are probably overlooking it. You should treat them in their dysfunctionality the same way you would want someone to treat you if you were acting that way. You see, they are breaking the “Golden Rule”. That is the problem. They are not treating people like they themselves want to be treated. They are disrespectful, but they expect respect. They are bullying, but they don’t want to be bullied. They are behaving inappropriately. The temptation is to treat them in an inappropriate fashion. After all, they’ve earned it, right? You can even justify this by flipping the script on the Golden Rule. “Hey, they are treating others the way they want to be treated… so I am just giving them what they want.” Well… that is actually breaking the Golden Rule.
Here’s a refresher on the Golden Rule. Jesus taught, “Whatever you want others to do for you, do also the same for them—this is the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12)
Check that… the Golden Rule isn’t just a ‘Christian principle.’ It is a human principle. The idea that we should treat others in the same way we want to be treated is as old as time. And it is the essence of the Old Testament traditions.
Also notice, Jesus was giving an overarching directive. He wasn’t just saying that you should do nice things to nice people because you want nice people to do nice stuff to you. The Golden Rule isn’t just for friends. We should treat difficult people like we want to be treated if we are ever difficult. I could be the jerk some day. In fact, I probably will be. How will I want people to bring me back to a good place? Will I want them to treat me harshly, or with love? How about you? If you want people to treat you right when you go wrong, you need to do the same with the person going wrong in your life today. That is the Golden Rule.