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Aug 05, 2018

Do No Harm

Do No Harm

Passage: Matthew 5:1-12

Speaker: Pastor Chris Riedel

Series: 3 Simple Rules

Category: Love, Gentleness

Keywords: gentleness, love

How is it with your soul? Live generously and graciously towards others as God lives towards you.


If you are interested in the book Pastor Chris mentioned in his sermon, it is Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I've Loved by Kate Bowler.

"You're familiar with the old written law, 'Love your friend' and it's unwritten companion, 'Hate your enemy'. I'm challenging that. I'm telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. . . In a word, what I'm saying is Grow up. You're kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others. The way God lives toward you."
Matthew 5:43,48 -The Message


Many of us have a hard time relating when Matthew talks about "enemies". I rarely sit around thinking about who my enemies might be and if I do, I have a hard time coming up with anyone. In the same vein, when thinking about John Wesley's first simple rule to "Do No Harm", many of us would be quick to say we don't do a whole lot of harm. We aren't cheating on our spouses, abusing our children, dishonest with our business associates, or estranged from our neighbors and families. 

And yet, I know that in my real life there are people who I have deeply harmed, whether intentionally or not, and people who have harmed me, whether intentionally or not. Generally, those are people who live inside the walls of my house, attend school, work, and church with me, or live in my community. Most often, they are people I love, cherish, and call my friends. 

The funny thing about doing harm is that it often happens when we have every intention of doing good. And it, in my case, usually involves my running my mouth too much. I often think I'm doing God's loving work by giving my opinion/advice/ experience/grand idea to that frustrated spouse, that dejected child, that grieving widow, or that misled Facebook friend. 

As a parent, I struggle with the panicked thought that I MUST NOT MISS THIS TEACHABLE MOMENT! This misdirected idea pushes me that I must immediately correct that misbehavior, comment on that tone, "train that child up" at that very second because time is running out before these knuckleheads will be unleashed to the world and then if they mess up EVERYONE WILL BE STARING AT ME! 


The text tells me to "Grow up". The most mature grown-ups I know do not panic. They do not feel the need to fill the air with their commentary and ideas constantly. They don't shrink from teaching lessons to their children or standing up for themselves in a dispute or giving helpful advice to a friend, but they are measured and patient, and most of the time, they use a whole lot fewer words than I do. 

What if before I speak, I remember that first I must do no harm? What if everything I imagined I needed to say didn't need to be said, at least not immediately? In parenting, or marriage, or friendship, what if what is required of me is something different than teaching a lesson, imparting a consequence, or even relaying my thoughts on God's purpose? What if saying nothing at all or simply "I'm sorry" is the best way to do no harm? Even better than encouraging, uplifting words, better than a Bible verse, better than a "Go get 'em next time"?  

When I am uncertain of what is called for in a circumstance, I might just need to show up. . . not with opinions, advice, or correction, but just to show up - mouth closed, heart open. Perhaps when Jesus says to "Grow up" and "to live graciously and generously toward others", he means that we must know that this showing up is all we as kingdom subjects need to do. After all, He is quite capable of handling the rest of it all by His all-powerful self.


Holy, wise Lord. Help us to grow up. Help us to remember that You are the one with the wisdom, the correction, the best, and most helpful advice. When we venture out into the world to be Your kingdom subjects, help us to seek You first, showing up with love, patience, and the simple idea to "do no harm". We can only do this with Your guidance and we thank You that it is forever and always available to us. Amen.

Written by Jennifer Skinner, member of Arcola Church and a Texan (Texas Longhorn to be specific!) living in beautiful Virginia with her very patient, funny husband, and three very impatient, funny boys/ball players. She is also a blogger, The View From Behind Home Plate, who writes about finding extraordinary grace and blessings among the cleats and dirt and testosterone that fill her ordinary days.