For at least a few weeks, I want to try something a little different with our Monday devotionals. Monday should be a good day to focus on a Christian behavior we can then practice throughout the week.
Here’s our text for this Monday:
Romans 12:17-18 (NLT): Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.
John Wesley summarized the Christian life with three simple rules for living, rules emphasized heavily in the early days of Methodism. They remain just as valuable today. Let’s consider the first one this week.
Rule No. 1: Do no harm.
The first rule sounds more like avoidance than action, until you consider how intentional a person must be to live it out in full. The world is full of evil, and it’s not unusual to find ourselves wanting to compromise our Christian standards to combat that evil.
In rare situations, such compromise is unavoidable. Otherwise, all Christians would have quickly begun to live as pacifists. I’m going to assume and pray, however, that none of you will find yourself in such a rare circumstance this week.
Going about our everyday lives, let’s try to assess each of our decisions with “do no harm” in mind. Who around us is touched by our actions? Where we gain, does someone lose?
What might we have to surrender to avoid doing harm? A little self-denial might be an important part of our week.
This all sounds a bit cerebral, but what we’re aiming for is an attitude that infects others. As “do no harm” becomes the standard within a community, its members begin to find themselves in a state of mutual care, and from there, those rare, compromise-inducing situations should become even rarer.
In many ways, this is a kingdom-building exercise, the first of three common to Methodism.
Lord, we pray this so often, but let our eyes see and our ears hear. Amen.