On Wesley’s Rule of Life

do-all-the-good-you-can

Brothers and sisters, don’t get discouraged in doing what is right (2 Thessalonians 3:13, Common English Bible).

“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.” (Commonly Called, “John Wesley’s Rule”).

“Do all the good you can…as long as ever you can.” We commonly call this, “John Wesley’s Rule.” According to some Wesleyan Historical writers, there is no evidence Wesley ever said this (see  “Wesley Didn’t Say It: Do all the good you can, by all the means you can…” April 29, 2013, Kevin M. Watson). In this blog post Kevin Watson suggests that “Wesley’s Rule of Life” never appears in any of his writings. I will take Dr. Watson’s research at face value. He has studied Wesley’s writings far more than I.

Normally, I am heavy on the bandwagon that we should only post things we know to be true, things that we have backed up with our own research. In most cases the research isn’t that difficult to do and as people of faith, when we stop short and post things that are untrue, we not only damage our own witness, but in a world that is growing increasingly secular, we damage the witness of other Christians as well.

So, while I will not assign Wesley credit with having written or said “Do all the good you can…as long as ever you can,” because this “rule of life” does align itself to something Wesley “might” have said, I have no trouble referring to this quote by its traditional name, “Wesley’s Rule of Life.”

This “Rule of Life” perhaps didn’t belong to Wesley but it does stand as a good reminder as to having a moral code of our own. The words are a good rule to live by, Wesley quote or not.

One of my favorite all-time television shows is NCIS. In the series, the central character, Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs, played by Mark Harmon, is known for his “rules.” In season six, episode three viewers learned to origins of Gibbs’ rules, it was from his first wife Shannon, who said, “Everyone needs a code they can live by.”

The fictitious Shannon was right. Many of of Gibbs’ rules are mundane, about the job kinds of things. They are things like rules one and two, “Never let suspects stay together” and “Always wear gloves at a crime scene” respectively. Others are more into the human condition such as, Rule 11: “When the job is done, walk away,” Rule 15: “Always work as a team” and Rule 28: “When you need help, ask.”

St. Benedict of Nursia (circa 480-543), credited with developing the first “Rule of Life,” also called “The Rule of St. Benedict,”which he established to order the life of Benedictine monasteries and the monks who resided there.

We all do need a code to live by. It seems to me that “John Wesley’s Rule of Life” is a pretty good one to live by, not just for Wesleyans, but for any person of faith, really for any person, faith or not, even if Wesley didn’t write it.

“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.”

Paul gives further credence to the importance of the “Rule” in the verse above. “Brothers and sisters, don’t get discouraged in doing what is right.”

If we are doing that which is right, how can we ever be wrong?

Have a Great Day in the Lord.

Grace and Peace,
Keith

Copyright 2016, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

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