Monday, June 25, 2018

Primum non nocer

When I was a child doctors still made house calls.   Being a single mom with 3 children to care for in the 1950’s, times were tough for my mamma.  We lived humbly and didn't own a car, but she was always thankful that she could work and put food on the table.  
When I was 5 I broke out in a miserable case of hives. 
Our family doctor came to the house one stormy night,  his raincoat drenched and his black bag in hand.  I was so grateful that I drew him a picture in appreciation. 
Many years later I dropped by his office and there on the wall by his desk was the drawing I had given to him as a young child.  I was verklempt.  He had fulfilled his vow to do no harm, but went above and beyond to care for his less fortunate patients. 
“First do no harm", from the Latin  primum non nocer is included in the Hippocratic Oath and establishes the foundation for medical ethics.  It is such a wonderful phrase because the same principle aptly applies to the Christian life.  
 Love does no wrong to a neighbor” Rom. 13:10 
We are called not only do no harm, but to go beyond and do good to all people, but especially to those who are of the household of the faith.”  Gal. 6:10.    How Christians treat one another is a tangible way for the world to see if we truly believe in the Christ we preach.     
“By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." Jn. 13:35 
Tertullian (160-220 AD) was a North African theologian and apologist who grew up in a pagan home.  He was educated in Latin, rhetoric, and philosophy.   Pondering how the pagans must have viewed Christians in his day,  he said, “Look . . .  how they love one another (for they themselves [pagans] hate one another); and how they are ready to die for each other (for they themselves are readier to kill each other).” 1  
We may share the Gospel, and have sound theology, but if we don't  treat our fellow believers with grace and kindness that exceeds what the world has to offer,  why would anyone want to listen to our message?  
I like what Martyn Lloyd Jones had to say about this. 
“I do not hesitate, therefore, to say that the ultimate test of our profession of the Christian faith is, I believe, this whole question of our loving one another. Indeed, I do not hesitate to aver that it is a more vital test than our orthodoxy.  I am the last man in the world to say anything against orthodoxy, but I am here to say that it is not the final test.  
...If you see your brother at fault, be patient with him, pray for him, try to help him, be sorry for him, instead of feeling it is something that is hurting you. See it as something that is hurting him terribly and doing him great harm and robbing him of so much joy in his Christian life.  That is what love means—that you somehow detach yourself from the problem and do not think of it in terms of that which is hurting you, but look upon it as Christ did; and have compassion for that person, take hold of him, love him out of it.” 2 

2.Free Grace Broadcaster. Vol. 206; Love and the New Birth;  D.Martyn Lloyd-Jones; pg 14,15  
Painting:  Harold N. Anderson (1894-1973)

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