Written by Kelvin Ramsey, Deacon of Friendship Baptist
By the age of 16, George Washington had copied out what became known as the “110 Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation.” For the most part these rules became his Code of Conduct for the rest of his life. Among the common sense rules are:
1. Every action done in company ought to be with some sign of respect, to those who are present.
22. Show not yourself glad at the misfortune of another though he were your enemy.
41. Undertake not to teach your equal in the art himself professes; it savors of arrogance.
44. When a man does all he can though it succeeds not well, blame not him that did it.
63. Speak not injurious words neither in jest nor earnest, scoff at none although they give occasion.
Some rules are probably a bit dated:
9. Spit not in the fire, nor stoop low before it neither put your hands into the flames to warm them, nor set your feet upon the fire especially if there be meat before it.
55. Eat not in the streets, nor in the house, out of season. (I think this means don’t snack!)
A rule is defined as a principle, regulation, or maxim governing individual conduct. If you watch NCIS, there are Gibb’s Rules. Most readers will be familiar with the Code of Conduct of the United States Fighting Force governing conduct in battle and if captured. Rules govern sports and games. Without them, chaos erupts. All societies need rules.
Many people think that being a follower of Christ means being a follower of rules. It is actually quite different. Being a follower of Christ gives freedom because he has shown us undeserved grace because we cannot ever perfectly live up to any code or follow rules in the hope that we will get a ticket to heaven if we keep enough of them.
We have freedom in Christ without the worry of being penalized either here on earth or en if we are not perfect. So, does this mean that if we are Christians that we can do whatever we want? Here’s where the rules apply. Jesus was asked “what is the greatest Rule?” (Commandment). He replied that it was to love God with all that we have (heart, mind, soul, resources).
He also said that there was another important Rule. “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If we consider these two rules as the code for our lives, then the Ten Commandments (summarized as Love and honor God and love and honor each other), the teachings of Jesus, and all the other principles in the Bible become the guidelines (Rules) for our lives. We will only do things that will honor God. We will conduct our lives to treat others decently and with respect.
May you have a life of Freedom in Christ and live by rules that honor him.