I have several medically trained individuals in my family. One common thread regardless of the category of vocation is the oath: First do no harm. This is a fundament premise in the medical community in treating individuals who are ailing. Most of the oath a physician takes at graduation can be rolled into these four words – primum non nocere.
These few words can also apply to any person and not necessarily to physicians only. Doing no harm does not mean to stand idly by while someone is in need of help. Doing no harm is not a prescription for remaining inactive in the presence of need.
A friend of mine’s son who is eleven years old was walking with his mother in a park. Suddenly, he took off in a sprint toward the pond which lay along the path. His mother had no idea what was happening. Then she saw something alarming; a toddler who had unknowingly fallen into the water. The boy jumped into the water without hesitation and rescued the two-year old from drowning. He acted without regard for his own safety and was even injured by underwater debris.
This young man is just wired this way as I’m told, as he is constantly seen doing acts of kindness. Such a person can be described as having a heart of gold. Could he have done no harm by ignoring the situation? I think you would agree with me in saying no!
John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, had three simple rules for living as a Christian: 1) Do no harm by avoiding evil of all kinds, 2) Do all the good for all, and 3) Attend to the ordinances of God. Three simple rules that embody the Christian life. The actions of the young man in saving the toddler can easily be seen in the first two rules. He did not harm the child by doing nothing, and certainly did all the good he could by rescuing the child.
So how can we do no harm? We fight within ourselves every day to think good thoughts and not bad ones. We are sinners by nature, but I submit the overwhelming source of our negativity is evil. How can we have a mind of Christ and still allow evil to influence our thinking at the same time? It is a struggle. If we know poison is bad or fatal, do we take it, or do we avoid it? The same can be said of evil influences.
We see terrible acts of violence in our nation in the name of positive change. You simply can’t do good by doing harm. It is an impossibility. The only way we can make a change is through prayer and by avoiding evil. Put good things in our body that will make us healthy and avoid the bad things that would harm us.
Do no harm to ourselves or each other. Pray, avoid, and love. Now there’s a prescription meant to cure a lot of hurts!