I used this in New Testament Survey class at Belhaven University and also in other teaching/training, pastoral counseling, and prison ministry.
Jonathan Goforth (1859-1936) was a Canadian missionary to China, serving with his wife, Rosalind. Goforth preached to large crowds and in small homes. He was stirred to serve Christ in China by the writings of Hudson Taylor. Jonathan was attacked and injured during the Boxer Rebellion and five of their eleven children died in China from sickness. Jonathan had these “Seven Rules” written in the flyleaf of his Bible. I refer to them often for myself and in helping others and have added specimen Scripture passages.
1. Seek to give much in serving Jesus; expect nothing.
Luke 6:30-35— Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that….But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.
2. Put the best construction on the actions of others.
1 Corinthians 13:7—Love is always ready to make allowances, to trust, to hope, and to endure whatever comes. (NJB)
3. Never let a day pass without at least a quarter hour spent in Bible study.
Col 3:16—Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. Psalm 119:9,11—How can a young person keep their way pure? By living according to your word….I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
Being Jesus’ devoted follower brings us into a dynamic and refreshing way of living that will sustain us through life’s valleys and provide breathtaking spiritual vistas from its peaks. Following Christ is Christianity the way God intended it, marked by simplicity, vigorous faith, purpose and direction, soul-winning impact on those around us, and above all, a joyous, growing closeness with Jesus. (Joseph M. Stowell III)
4. Never omit morning and evening private prayer and devotions.
Philippians 4:6-7—Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Psalm 55:17—Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and He hears my voice.
5. In all things, seek to know God’s will, and when known, obey it at any cost.
Romans 12:1-2—In view of God’s mercy offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God, this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is, His good, pleasing and perfect will. John 14:23-24— Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.
6. Seek to cultivate a quiet, prayerful spirit.
1 Peter 3:3-4—Your beauty should…be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 1 Thess 4:11-12—Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.
7. Seek each day to say and do things to advance Christ’s Kingdom.
2 Peter 3:11-12—Since everything will be destroyed (when Christ returns), what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. Col 4:5-6—Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
Goforth’s “Seven Rules” remind me that holiness is not self-effort by which we earn fellowship with God. Holiness is Christ’s life-changing gift of grace whereby He enables us to cling to Him and to follow Him in our thinking, speaking, and behaving (Psalm 63:8).
Following Christ involves more than the above, but these directives are a good start. You may want to keep this page in the front of your Bible and use it to remind you that a close walk with Jesus is the key to blessed and effective living.