Three Simple Rules: Do Good

This message was shared at Centerville United Methodist Church on Sunday, October 19, 2014. The Scripture passage for the morning was 1 John 4:7-21

We’re in the midst of a series called Three Simple Rules. The three simple rules come from John Wesley’s General rules for Christian living. The rules call us to do no harm, do good and stay in love with God.

Last week, we talked about living lives in which we do no harm in word, thought, or deed. If we strive to do no harm, we will put ourselves in the proper position to live out the second rule of doing good. To do good is basically the opposite of doing harm. However, we can do no harm in word, thought, or deeds and still fail to do good.

Doing good is an outward display of our faith. Doing good involves all that we are. Doing good involves our words, thoughts, and deeds. Doing good involves our time, our talents, and our resources. We can use all that we are and all that we possess to bring about a greater good in our world. Our good deeds are a proactive response to God’s great love for us. Our good deeds are the evidence of Christ’s transforming power in our lives. Good deeds are God’s invitation for His people to participate in His work on the earth.

Each day, we are presented with opportunities to do good in the world around us…through our words, deeds, and thoughts…And, it doesn’t have to be something way out there…it could easily just be part of your normal routine. We have to consider how we can redeem and transform our everyday routine patterns to become opportunities to serve God and one another by doing good.

John Wesley wrote that, “There is scarce any possible way of doing good, for which there is not daily occasion…Here are poor families to be relieved: Here are children to be educated: Here are workhouses, wherein both young and old gladly receive the word of exhortation: Here are the prisons, and therein a complication of all human wants.”

In Luke 6:27-36, Jesus gives us a big challenge: “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.” Doing good is our faithful action in response to hearing the call of Jesus to love one another…even our enemies!

Bishop Rueben Job, in his book on the Three Simple Rules expands on this thought, “The words of Jesus and of Wesley suggest that doing good is a universal command. That is, doing good is not limited to those like me or those who like me. Doing good is directed at everyone, even those who do not fit my category of ‘worthy’ to receive any good that I or others can direct their way. This command is also universal in that no one is exempt from it.  Doing good, like doing no harm, is a proactive way of living. I do not need to wait to be asked to do some good deed or provide some needed help.”

Beverly Jordan witnessed an extraordinary act of generosity after Hurricane Andrew slammed into South Florida in 1992, leaving a wide path of destruction in its path. Jordan, who is a nurse, volunteered to go door to door in Miami delivering emergency relief. Her relief van pulled up to a house that was nothing but a shell. She asked the young owners if they needed anything. “They said, ‘No, but can you wait a minute here?’ They came back out with a case of diapers and four or five bags of food and said, ‘Would you please give this to somebody who needs it worse than we do?'” Jordan says she never got the couple’s name and wishes that she could thank them for their generosity.

Amy Scharman of Mapleton, Utah, remembered the Christmas after her parents divorced. Her mother was raising 13 kids with no child support. The holiday was looking pretty grim. “It was about dusk on Christmas Eve and we heard a knock on the back door,” Scharman says. When they opened it, no one was there. But someone had left 10 big bags filled with presents for the children, including clothes and toys. “It was such an overwhelming feeling to see such generosity from I don’t even know who it was,” she says. Ten years later, Scharman and her family still don’t know who did that good deed. Amy Scharman ends her note, “If you’re out there, thank you for making that Christmas the most memorable of all.”

Four-year-old Justin Dingman took the hand of a frightened fellow pre-schooler, serving as the welcoming committee on the boy’s first day at school. Liadan Susoeff, 7, took books to a shelter in Pittsburgh at holiday time and read to the children there. Eight-year-old Luke O’Neill took one of his own coats to school so a less fortunate classmate could go outside at recess.

David Hutmacher of Marietta, Ga., wrote of the generosity he received from co-workers when he became seriously ill three years ago. After three hospital stays, including two surgeries, he had used up all of his vacation and sick leave. “It was the end of the year and my last paycheck at the first of December was for approximately 10 percent of its usual amount. I was worried it was fast approaching Christmas and I wouldn’t be going back to work until mid-January at the earliest. I am married and have two daughters who at that time were 8 and 5, respectively. My wife, who is a schoolteacher, was just barely keeping things together. I really didn’t think there would be much if any Christmas that year. So I was very surprised when on the 15th of December I received a paycheck. When I opened it there was not only a full pay period but also the pay I was missing from the previous check. I immediately called our comptroller for an explanation. It seems that all the employees had gotten together and donated any vacation that they had left for the year so I could get paid. I cried. It was truly a Good Deed.”

These are stories of people choosing to do good. None of the stories are extraordinary. These aren’t stories about someone donating millions of dollars. These aren’t stories of someone rescuing a stranger from a burning building. These are simple stories of people who responded in small ways to help others in need.

Each day, we are presented with opportunities, big and small, to help one another. A kind word, a warm meal, a smile, an open door, a small donation all have the potential to let the light of Christ shine in our world.

There is a Thai insurance commercial that demonstrates how small things really can become life-changing. We don’t necessarily have to do huge things to change the world. We simply have to make a decision to do good when opportunities are presented.

In Romans 12:9-20, we are called to overcome evil with good! By living lives that are focused on doing no harm and doing good, we can overcome the evil we encounter in this world.

In Luke 22:27, Jesus says, “I am among you as one who serves.”  Jesus comes as one who serves. We’re called to be like Jesus. We’re called to serve. The only way we can truly do good in this world is if we take on the heart of a servant, the heart of Jesus, where our eyes are continually open to see the needs around us. We aren’t called to serve God when it’s convenient. We’re called to serve God at all times.

Galatians 6:9-10 calls us to do good at all times to all people. Don’t grow weary. That’s why we need one another in the church…to encourage and strengthen one another so we can get out there and do good to all at all times! Do you see opportunities in your daily routine to do good? Can you get creative and turn all that you say, do, and think into good things that honor God?

We have to ask ourselves if we are living for God or ourselves? If we take an honest look at how we use our time, talents, and resources we will get a very clear idea of who we are living for. Are we pursuing God things or worldly things? There is a difference between good things and God things. Sometimes worldly things can be good things, but if they distract us from the God things…are they truly good?

Part of our faith journey is to discover the difference between worldly things, good things, and God things. A life of prayer, worship, service, and study will help reveal the difference. If we are living for God, we will be embracing a life of doing good…at all times.

Bishop Job issues a challenge to see beyond ourselves. He writes, ““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 from 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 movements that seek to divide and conquer will become movements that seek to unite and empower all. It will mean that the common good will be my first thought and what is good for me will become a secondary thought.” ~Bishop Rueben Job

God calls on us to proactively search for and respond to needs around us. He calls us to do good to all people, at all times, in all places. We shouldn’t wait on the world to change, we should be the change we want to see.

Everything we do & say has to potential to be good. Everything we do and say also has the potential to be harmful.

Our desire to “do good” comes from God. If we are truly followers of Jesus, we will have a desire to live like Him…He was one who reached out to the least of these, provided help for the helpless, showed grace and mercy to the worst of all sinners, and demonstrated a life of love.

How do we do good?

  • Do good…with your time (give time to worship, prayer, Bible study, service, fellowship).
  • Do good…with your talents.(find ways to use your work, your skills, your hobbies to praise and glorify God…whatever you do…do it well)
  • Do good…with your resources. “Let your heart feel for the afflictions and distress of everyone, and let your hand give in proportion to your purse.”- George Washington. (use your money and possessions in ways that honor God)
  • Do good…with your words.(do your words build up and encourage or tear down and belittle)
  • Do good…in all that you say, do, and think.

Comedian Steven Colbert has spoken about finding joy in our work- He keeps the following saying on his desk to remind him that he should find great joy in his work. It reads, “Joy is the most infallible sign of the presence of God.” The sign reminds him that nothing ever gets better unless you work. His goal is to put joy and work together. Sometimes doing good is as simple as finding ways to bring joy into our daily routines…into our work. If we are filled with joy…we will have the natural inclination, the desire to bring about good rather than harm to the world around us. Doing good is all about doing whatever we do with joy, with integrity, the best we possibly can, while looking for ways to contribute to the well-being of others.

Doing good isn’t simply about being a nice person. It is about responding to the opportunities around us with love, compassion, kindness, and action. We can use our time, our talents, our resources, our possessions, and our prayers to serve those around us.

The way we use our time, talents, and resources says a lot about our priorities in life. We can use our time to do good, to serve, to draw near to Christ, or to be busy with other things. We can use our talents to do good, to serve, to worship Christ, or to serve ourselves. We can use our resources and possessions to do good, to serve Christ and the world, to build up the Church, to spread the Gospel, or we can use our resources and possessions to serve ourselves.

Doing good means that we will have a different perspective on how we use our time, talents, and resources. Doing good means that we will begin to ask how we can honor God and show love to the world around us in the way we use our time, talents, and resources. Do we honor, praise, and serve God with our words, thoughts, and deeds?

Do an audit on how you use your time, talents, and resources. What does your calendar say is most important to you? What does your bank statement say is most important to you? If God isn’t in first place…we might need to reconsider some of the things we are giving our time, talents, energy, and resources to.

John Wesley is credited with saying the following about doing good: “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.”

The bottom line is that we CAN do good. But that is all up to each and every one of us.

What is God calling you to do today to help bring about a greater good in this world? Maybe he’ll call you to be a missionary overseas. Maybe he’ll call you to be a missionary in your current workplace. Maybe he’ll call you to step up the giving of your time, talents, and resources. Maybe he’ll call you to smile at everyone. Maybe he’ll call you to pray for your church, your neighbors, your family, your co-workers, your nation. Maybe he’ll call you to pick up the phone and call a friend to offer words of encouragement. Maybe he’ll call you to hold someone’s hand as they grieve, mourn, or when they are afraid. Maybe he’ll call you to give some of your stuff to someone else. We all have the capacity to do good. We all have the capacity to do harm. Will you choose to do good in your words, your thoughts, and your deeds?

Here is a simple prayer for the week, “Lord, help me to do no harm today in any way. Lord, help me to do good at all times to all people. “

 

 

 

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