Wesley’s General Rules provide wonderful basic guidelines to Christian living. The rules read this way:
- First: By doing no harm, by avoiding evil of every kind, especially that which is most generally practiced, such as:
- Secondly: By doing good; by being in every kind merciful after their power; as they have opportunity, doing good of every possible sort, and, as far as possible, to all men:
- Thirdly: By attending upon all the ordinances of God; such as:
Notice that each general rule segues into a list of things that Wesley found particularly egregious in human conduct of the day. The expansion to those rules is at the end of this post, in case you are curious about these things.
I have been teaching the General Rules to the Confirmation Class. So far, we’ve only worked on the first two, and I thought it would be helpful if the youth themselves would expand them in order to cover the issues that these young people face day to day.
So, I gave each of them a stack of sticky notes and a pen and told them to write out their own and place them on the board every time they thought of a rule. Basic guideline: they could only write what they themselves were willing to be held accountable for and were willing to do—or not to do.
After the usual blank stares that such an assignment elicits in the vague and brain-mush world of the 12-15 year old, they set to work. The results are below. I just wish our governmental leaders had as much wisdom as do my confirmands.
I present to you proudly (and in no particular order), “The Wesleyan General Rules as interpreted by the 2013 Confirmation Class at Krum First United Methodist Church.”
- Don’t steal.
- Don’t do wrong.
- No bullying!
- Don’t pull out your eyelashes with sticky notes
- Do not enable the wrong doings of others
- Don’t be mean (like Vader)
- Don’t text and drive (reiterated several times)
- NO EVIL!
- No cheating anyone out of money
- No being rude to people.
- Don’t be disrespectful of others.
- No bullying. (this is a huge issue and was noted multiple times)
- No killing.
- No cursing.
- No ISS (In School Suspension).
- Be nice to people..
- Do NOT kill or hurt. (This was another big one—they are very much against killing!)
- Be a good friend.
- Don’t be extremely wicked.
- Don’t be EVIL.
- Don’t use god’s name in vain (ex: Oh My God!)
- Don’t steal from any one at any time.
- Don’t have bad sportsmanship.
- Don’t talk down to others.
- Do not be a mean person.
- Do not be mean to God.
- No drug selling or smuggling.
- Do not cause harm to other people, physically or mentally.
- No burning of wildlife out of nowhere.
- Do understand the situation of others.
- Do not burn the Bible.
- Do not cuss at anyone.
- Be nice!
- Do not rob.
- It can wait!
- Do not raise your voice.
- Do not damage property.
- Do not dislike anyone.
- Share what you have.
- No judging before getting to know someone, but try not to judge period.
- No drunkenness, selling what is not yours
- No fighting or quarrelling.
- No gossip.
- Use appropriate language.
- Keep up with fashion!
- Don’t hurt people’s feelings.
- Love your pastor and follow their guidance. (My favorite, of course)
- Lead others but don’t drive others.
- Don’t get more detentions.
- Don’t treat others poorly when you don’t want to be treated poorly.
- Try to be loving to one another.
- Do not harm others physically.
- Be open to people of all races.
- Love animals and don’t yell at them.
- Do not smoke in God’s house. Actually, just don’t smoke.
- Do not talk about others in a bad way.
- Love people and forgive them.
- Listen to Jesus in your heart.
- Don’t judge people like bookcovers.
- Do not harm animals.
- Do not fight.
- Do not speed in Krum.
- Obey law enforcement.
- No sex until marriage.
- Do not be racist.
For comparison, here are the original expansions of the rules:
First: By doing no harm, by avoiding evil of every kind, especially that which is most generally practiced, such as:
- The taking of the name of God in vain.
- The profaning the day of the Lord, either by doing ordinary work therein or by buying or selling.
- Drunkenness: buying or selling spirituous liquors, or
- drinking them, unless in cases of extreme necessity.
- Slaveholding; buying or selling slaves.
- Fighting, quarreling, brawling, brother going to law with brother; returning evil for evil, or railing for railing; the using many words in buying or selling.
- The buying or selling goods that have not paid the duty.
- The giving or taking things on usury—i.e., unlawful interest.
- Uncharitable or unprofitable conversation; particularly speaking evil of magistrates or of ministers.
- Doing to others as we would not they should do unto us.
- Doing what we know is not for the glory of God, as:
- The putting on of gold and costly apparel.
- The taking such diversions as cannot be used in the name of the Lord Jesus.
- The singing those songs, or reading those books, which do not tend to the knowledge or love of God.
- Softness and needless self-indulgence.
- Laying up treasure upon earth.
- Borrowing without a probability of paying; or
- taking up goods without a probability of paying for them.
Secondly: By doing good; by being in every kind merciful after their power; as they have opportunity, doing good of every possible sort, and, as far as possible, to all men:
- To their bodies, of the ability which God giveth, by giving food to the hungry, by clothing the naked, by visiting or helping them that are sick or in prison.
- To their souls, by instructing, reproving, or exhorting all we have any intercourse with; trampling under foot that
- enthusiastic doctrine that “we are not to do good unless our hearts be free to it.”
- By doing good, especially to them that are of the household of faith or groaning so to be; employing them preferably to others; buying one of another, helping each other in business, and so much the more because the world will love its own and them only.
- By all possible diligence and frugality, that the gospel be not blamed.
- By running with patience the race which is set before them, denying themselves, and taking up their cross daily; submitting to bear the reproach of Christ, to be as the filth and offscouring of the world; and looking that men should say all manner of evil of them falsely, for the Lord’s sake.
Thirdly: By attending upon all the ordinances of God; such as:
- The public worship of God.
- The ministry of the Word, either read or expounded.
- The Supper of the Lord.
- Family and private prayer.
- Searching the Scriptures.
- Fasting or abstinence.
These are the General Rules of our societies; all of which we are taught of God to observe, even in his written Word, which is the only rule, and the sufficient rule, both of our faith and practice. And all these we know his Spirit writes on truly awakened hearts. If there be any among us who observe them not, who habitually break any of them, let it be known unto them who watch over that soul as they who must give an account.
We will admonish him of the error of his ways. We will bear with him for a season. But then, if he repent not, he hath no more place among us. We have delivered our own souls.