Rules of thumb

Dear friend,

Never Trust a Calm Dog, and Other Rules of Thumb is the title of a book I read some time ago and was recently browsing through again.

The phrase, “rule of thumb” came from a time in history when various trades measured quantities by comparison to the length or width of a thumb. Today it means an easily applied, homemade recipe for making a guess, determination, or calculation. For example, the rule of thumb for determining the outdoor temperature in Fahrenheit is to count the number of times a cricket chirps in 15 seconds and add 37.

Reading the book again got me thinking about rules of thumb for Christian living. Here are a couple I’ve heard.

  • Regarding controlling your words: Ask, “Is it true, is it kind, is it necessary?” Or, “Count three seconds before answering”
  • Regarding controlling your temper: “Count to 10”

Here are some rules of thumb I can think of based on Scripture.

  • Regarding sexual temptation: “Don’t try to fight it, flee it!” (2 Timothy 2:22)
  • Regarding a rift in relationships: “It’s always my responsibility to go” (Matthew 5:24; 18:15)
  • Regarding behaviour: “Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them” (Matthew 7:12 MSG)

Many of us struggle when it comes to understanding the biblical teaching on financial giving. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a rule of thumb for that? Maybe there is.

Consider 2 Corinthians 9:7, “You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. ‘For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.’” Based on this verse, my suggested rule of thumb for financial giving is this: “Give as much as you can willingly and cheerfully.”

Rules of thumb are helpful because they are practical and easy to follow in daily life. Yes, I know living the Christian life is more complicated than following a few rules of thumb. That’s why Insight for Living Canada exists. Our mission is to help people understand and apply the Scriptures to daily life. It’s what we do every day because the need is great and is the reason your continued support is essential.

Be encouraged, your support is making a difference! Here is what one listener wrote:

I so appreciate your words of encouragement.... And want to thank all of what goes into Insight for Living on a daily basis. Over the years, I have found such support, solace, and, yes, even stress knowing that our mandate of keeping our eyes focused on Christ and spreading the Gospel is a very important part of our lives as Christians.... I find encouragement, like yours, helps to keep me going and stronger in the way of faith all the time. Thank you all.

Recognizing that individuals are being strengthened and encouraged through the work we do let me ask you, based on the rule of thumb for financial giving, “What are you able to give willingly and cheerfully to see that lives continue to be impacted by God’s Word?”

I’ll leave that question for you to ponder.

God has used you and Insight for Living Canada in partnership to make an eternal difference in so many lives across this country. I think there’s a rule of thumb for that too, “Make yourself and your resources available to God, and He will use them to glorify Himself.”

Your partner in ministry,

Steve Johnson

Executive Director

PS Follow this rule of thumb when it comes to giving to Insight for Living Canada: “Give as much as you can willingly and cheerfully.” People will be impacted and God will be glorified.