Summary: Following Wesley’s three simple rules rather than 615+ laws. First, do no harm.

Three Simple Rules (1)

Matt 22:37-40

Excerpts taken from the talk (and book) of Bishop Rueben P. Job by the same title

Today we begin a three part series on “Beginning a New Life”

We all begin each New Year by planning to do things differently than we did last year

Some of us make a long list

The good intentions and promises usually last about three weeks

That may be because the plans are too many and too complicated

We make big plans without the ability to follow them to conclusion

Several years ago a meeting of UMC Bishops was addressed by Bishop Sharon Brown Christopher

She began by showing the crowd a large stack of books

These were the current rules, laws, beliefs, etc of the UMC

Then she showed them the 1964 BOD

It was less than ¾ inches thick

She then surprised the leaders of the UMC by asking, “Could the leadership of the UMC be the new “P” word?”


How many ways to sin? > 650

How many commandments to keep? > 650

Like the difference in the US and Texas Constitutions

The US Constitution has been amended < 30 in 240 years

The Texas Constitution has been amended nearly 300 times in 175 years

In our reading today, Jesus says all of the law and prophets can be reduced to three rules

Love God, neighbor and self

How can we reduce the pile of rules to something we can follow?

We will consider next two weeks

We live in fast paced, frenzied and complex world

We feel trapped, we cannot get free

We all long for a way to cut through complexities and turbulence of everyday life

We search for way to overcome divisiveness that separates, disparages, belittles, disrespects, and

Leaves us all wounded and incomplete

We know we are going the wrong way

Ruts so deep only radical change can get us out of our dilemma

Continuing in the old ways is no longer an option

Risks are too high and the results too costly

The new way must be clear and understandable to all

We do not need more rules

We need a clear and simple way of life

After considering our reading today, let us, also, consider our roots

This simple way of living was given to John Wesley in a time much like our own

He took the blueprint, fleshed it out, taught it and passed it down to us

We can take it, teach it and practice it until it becomes a natural way of living for us

This week and next, we will discuss

First, do no harm

Do good

Stay in love with God

First, do no harm – by avoiding evil of any kind, especially that which is most generally practiced (BOD 103)

First part of the physician’s code of ethics no harm

We all know what that means

Will ugly names hurt someone? Don’t

Will sarcasm cause a problem? Don’t

Will adultery hurt someone’s feelings? Don’t

Will stealing hurt someone? Don’t

Not “easy” but “simple”

Won’t use “easy” much this series

Roman 7:15-25 Paul wrote

We want to do good, but cannot

Do not want to do bad, but cannot help it

GOOD NEWS He realized that he had Jesus living in his heart

He did not have to do it

Jesus would do it through him

It is not easy

We need to keep the statement, “Do no Harm” in front of us all of the time

You have it on your paper

Put it on your fridge and mirror

Tape it on your P-U and car

When tempted to do that which is wrong, the thought will flash through your mind

Do no harm

The more you listen and stop what you are going to do, the easier it will become

Do no harm – avoid all evil

If everyone would do this

If everyone would promise to refuse to do anything that would bring harm to anybody

God – neighbor - self

Can you even imagine what our world could be like?

Go, and DO NO HARM


Rev. O. K. Neal

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