When somebody becomes a medical doctor, they take an oath (usually referred to as the Hippocratic Oath) in which they agree to maintain a certain level of ethics as they perform medical procedures upon patients. One part of the oath (stated in various ways in different versions of the oath) is the phrase, “Do No Harm.”

What does it mean for a doctor to do no harm? Does it mean that the patient will never be hurt by anything the doctor does? Well, if you’ve ever gotten shots or had surgery or gone through any number of things that doctors do to you, you know that you are often hurt by what the doctor does. Does that mean they’re breaking their oath?

No, of course it doesn’t mean that. Assuming the doctor is using proper medical wisdom, anything that is done to you is done to help you in some way. Shots are to prevent you from getting sick; surgery is to correct some type of problem, and so on. In fact, in many cases, a doctor who does not do these things is actually doing much more harm to you than the one who proceeds in the proper way at the proper time. A little bit of pain or discomfort at the beginning leads to a much better condition later.

A similar approach can be taken in a spiritual sense as we seek to cure people of the disease of sin. It can be quite uncomfortable to share the gospel with someone, especially today when we are surrounded by so much opposition to the things of God. However, we know that what we are offering will not cause harm to the person. On the contrary, we are doing much more harm to the person if we withhold the information they need to save their soul.

Is every conversation the right time to share the gospel? Of course not. For example, talking about it at your place of employment might get you fired. That’s where wisdom comes in — recognizing when there is an opportunity and then being ready to say the right thing at the right time. And, how do you know what is the right thing to say? Well, some of it you have learned in church and by reading the scriptures over the years and the rest will be supplied by the Holy Ghost as you need it.

So, think of yourself as a spiritual doctor, applying proper wisdom to assist the Lord in performing surgery on people’s hearts. There might be a little pain or discomfort at the beginning, but it will lead to a much better condition later. You’re certainly doing no harm to the person; you’re actually providing an opportunity for which they will be eternally grateful.

When Jesus sent out His Apostles, He knew they would face significant opposition (even greater than what we encounter today). But their mission was important — they were to be spiritual doctors, equipped with the wisdom and power that Jesus had given them and prepared to “do no harm” to the people they encountered, offering healing for their sinful conditions—and their bodies too! Jesus phrased their instructions like this:

“Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” (Matthew 10:16)

How would they know the right thing to say when they encountered opposition?

“Take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.” (Matthew 10:19-20)

As should be clear by now, our mission today is the same as the mission of the original Apostles. The world is dying in sin. We have the cure. Let’s be wise in overcoming the opposition that exists — both the opposition of the world and the opposition within ourselves (our fears and discomforts). Keeping the gospel to ourselves does harm to other people. Do No Harm.

This article has undergone ministry review and approval.


  • Brother Jerry Valenti

    Brother Jerry lives in the suburbs of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with wife Sister Pat and daughter Maria.

1 Comment

  1. B. Poulsen

    I came across this website while looking at various church’s resources and sites. I am not a member of this church, but decided to look at your blog, and I read this letter “Do No Harm”. It was very well written and an enjoyable read with a worthwhile message. I am not someone that posts on social media and often comments on internet sites, so please take this comment as the compliment it is meant to be, a big one! Very well done, indeed.


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