JOY Blog

Three Simple Rules: Part 1 - Do No Harm
March 6, 2011 By Royann Bold

Do no harm. Do good. Stay in love with God. Sounds simple, doesn't it? After all, these are three simple rules. Believe me when` I tell you these rules present a much bigger challenge than you could ever imagine.

Three Simple Rules That Will Change the World was written in 2007 by Rueben P. Job, a retired bishop of the United Methodist Church, to give Christians a blueprint for faithful living. Bishop Job says the rules provide "a message that can be clearly understood by persons of every age, every educational and economic level, every condition and circumstance of life."

I was first introduced to the Three Simple Rules at a Lenten study at our church a couple of years ago. Since then, I have not forgotten the rules and I try to live my life by them -- although it is sometimes very difficult!

Most of us in this study group picked up this little 77-page instruction booklet with the same thought. No one seemed to feel they would struggle with the rule "do no harm"; after all, the vast majority of us never mean to intentionally do harm. But, don't minimize "do no harm" as a passive approach to meeting life's challenges. "Do no harm" does require action be taken, as the following example indicates:

Your daughter has a Facebook account, and she shares with you her concern over accounts on Facebook regarding her friend who was supposedly seen violating the school athletic team's substance abuse policy. Do you advise her to do nothing? The gossip is flying and she is being pressured by others to take a stand against her friend. If she chooses to defend her friend in the conversations, she will be linked to her and the possible outcome if her friend is found guilty of the charge. If she joins in against her friend in the verbal attacks, even if the evidence seems there, she will be included as a member of a group of girls who feel it is completely right to play judge and jury; she will also be turning on her friend. We know that whatever action she takes will have a consequence.

Unless we live our lives under a rock, we all will face ethical dilemmas like this that require a careful, thoughtful approach. In advising your daughter to use a "Do No Harm" approach, she could actively encourage others to do the same...which would immediately change the climate of the dilemma. If they are to do no harm, then they can no longer gossip about the conflict. They can no longer speak disparagingly about those involved in the conflict. They can no longer manipulate the facts of the conflict. They can no longer disparage those who do not agree with them, because they must honor each other as children of God. As Rueben Job states it so eloquently: "I will guard my lips, my mind and my heart so that my language will not disparage, injure or wound another child of God. I must do no harm, even while I seek a common good."

If we put our trust in God that He will lead and empower us, we need not fear the consequences of our actions.

Coming up next time: Part 2 - Do Good

Peace to you all!

If all social networking sites required users to study the rule "Do No Harm," how might things be different in the world of cyber-bullying?

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