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

Author:

Spirita Spiro (Esperanza for "Spirit's Breath) is rather new in my life. But the blog is not. I began writing a blog several years ago. It lived under the title, "The Pastor Ponders." Over the years I have tried several different names and "The Pastor Ponders" always seemed to fit best. I am trying again with Spirita Spiro. For 27 years I was a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church. This year, August 2018, I semi-retired (I can't actually retire quite yet) and began teaching social studies. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I was going to do this, I needed to make it sooner rather than later. So, I made the move. I thought with the career change there also needed to be a name change to the blog and other things, such as spiritual direction. Spirita Spiro is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 27 years as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Most recently I served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas. I have also served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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