For the past two weeks I have consciously practiced honing the three spiritual disciplines, do no harm, do good, and stay in love with God, that Rueben P. Job outlines in his book: Three Simple Rules: A Wesleyan Way of Living. The “do no harm” discipline is the most difficult for me to master because it has more to do with thinking than acting. The work for this discipline begins in the heart and mind and is reflected by attitude and in actions.
According to Job, just the idea of thinking evil about another person is a form of harm. That concept is almost mind-boggling. Yet it is perfectly in line with Jesus’ own words as record in the Gospel of Matthew 5:28, “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Of course the gist of Job’s position and of the Gospel message is that actions are a manifestation of what is taking, or has already taken, place in the mind. Do no harm speaks to the heart of authentic godly living. Do no harm goes beyond abstaining from causing physical harm. It asserts that to do no harm means not to even think negative thoughts about others.
It is that way of thinking that has presented the greatest challenge to me during my quest to live according to the three simple rules Job discusses in his book. First and foremost, when driving I find myself easily frustrated with other drivers. That frustration causes me to think bad thoughts about them. I say inappropriate things (in my head or the privacy of my car) like, “Hurry up slow poke,” or “move over stupid.” I’ve even found myself saying t, “Just get off the road stupid” or “Please move out of my way. Pull over!” There are times when I am so frustrated with other drivers that I throw up my hands while driving. I am shocked at the number of times in a day that I call other drivers stupid or dumb or wish to hurry them out of my way.
Until I started practicing doing no harm my behavior towards other drivers was shameful and without remorse. However, since I began conscientiously thinking about not doing harm, when I catch myself becoming frustrated with other drivers I redirect my thoughts each time I linger on a negative thought about another driver. Then I recite Philippians 4:8, “…think about whatever is true, think about whatever is noble, think about whatever is right, think about whatever pure, think about whatever is lovely, think about whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy think about it.”
I’m changing my strategy a little. Instead of simply citing the Scripture, I will try saying things like: “Thank you God for the slow driving person in front of me. By driving below the speed limit the driver in front of me is obeying the law and he or she may actually save lives.
At the end of thirty days perhaps I will do no harm while driving because I will think only positive thoughts about other drivers.