This week we continue in a three-part series into the “Three Simple Rules” John Wesley laid out for the early Methodists. Today, we look at a very simple rule, “Do Good.”
In the Bible, there are countless places where we see we are called to do good or to follow the example of Jesus as He did good.
- Luke 6:27-28 “But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.”
- 3 John 11 “Whoever does good is from God.”
- Acts 10:38 “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good…”
While these are just a few examples of where it is in the Bible, we know that it is one of the ultimate commandments we are given as Christians. John Wesley has a famous quote that I think sums up just how important “doing good” was to him:
Do all the good you can, By all the means you can, In all the ways you can, In all the places you can, At all the times you can, To all the people you can, As long as ever you can.”
One of the things I have loved most about the last 7 years I have been involved in the Methodist Church is how they care about the holistic well-being of a person. What I mean is that they take the command to “do good” and look at all parts of the person. Methodism has birthed all over the world countless hospitals, clinics, schools, orphanages, universities, and graduate schools because it is part of the Methodist DNA to care about the whole person.
I think that while the Methodist and many other denominations have done a good job “doing good” on an organizational level, that doesn’t always make it easy on a personal level to do good.
Bishop Rueben Job who wrote a book based on John Wesley’s “Three Simple Rules” talks about a “circle of goodness” that can help us do good. You see, doing good, like doing no harm, is a proactive way of living. I want to really emphasize that, doing good is not reactive, it is proactive. We don’t wait for something to go wrong to fix it; we address issues before they arise. We don’t need to wait to be asked to provide help, we don’t need to wait until we see some circumstance that cries out for help to provide aid or undo some injustice. We must decide that our way of living will come down on the side of doing good to all in every circumstance and in every way we can. We can decide that we will choose a way of living that nourishes goodness and strengthens our community. We can never be moved outside the circle of goodness (as Bishop Reuben Job calls it) that flows from God. That circle of goodness flows directly from God to all of us and in turn it can flow out into the world. Every act, every word, every thought we have must pass through the love and will of God and be measured to see if its purpose does indeed bring goodness to all it touches.
Bishop Rueben Job has this to say about doing good:
I must seek what is best for those whose position and condition may be far different than my vision for them. It will mean that I will seek to heal the wounds of my sisters and brothers, no matter if their social position, economic condition, educational achievement, or lifestyle is radically different than mine. It will mean that the words and acts that wound and divide will be changed to words and acts that heal and bring together… It will mean that the common good will be my first thought and what is good for me will become a secondary thought.”
What a profound yet simple way to live life. Go, do good!