I before e, except after c
Or when sounded as ‘a’ as in ‘neighbor’ and ‘weigh’
Unless the ‘c’ is part of a ‘sh’ sound as in ‘glacier’
Or it appears in comparatives and superlatives like ‘fancier’
And also except when the vowels are sounded as ‘e’ as in ‘seize’
Or ‘i’ as in ‘height’
Or also in ‘-ing’ inflections ending in ‘-e’ as in ‘cueing’
Or in compound words as in ‘albeit’
Or occasionally in technical words with strong etymological links to their parent languages as in ‘cuneiform’
Or in other numerous and random exceptions such as ‘science’, ‘forfeit’, and ‘weird’.

And that doesn’t even rhyme.

– taken from https://www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/i-before-e-except-after-c

As the folks at Merriam Webster mockingly pointed out, there are numerous exceptions to the age-old rule, “i before e except after c”. In fact, I have have heard it claimed that there are more words that break the rule than there are words that follow it! The phrase is catchy, but you shouldn’t rely on it too heavily. Especially if, say, you’re at a spelling bee and your turn is up.

Alright, moving on…this isn’t English class, and I don’t wish to belabor the irony of the “i before e” rule. Rather, I am here today to bring you a new catch phrase…one that is far more reliable and trustworthy. I’m sorry to say it will not win you any points at the local spelling bee, but it will give you something handy to remember in your Christian walk. It goes like this:

I Before Thee (Except After He)

See, the “rule” of this world is selfishness. What I want. What will further my interests. Me being served. I before thee.

Yet there is an exception to this worldly rule: except after He. (That is, except after Christ)

In Him, we lay aside the old “rule” of selfishness. We learn to be humble and sacrificial. We learn to esteem others as better than ourselves. We learn to cultivate the heart of a servant. Today, I am going to share three reasons why following the Christian rule “I before thee (except after He)” will significantly enrich your life.

The first reason is that you just may…


Generally speaking, putting others first will cause them to view you in a positive light. Certainly there are exceptions to this rule, but for the most part, your average person cannot but help to be charmed by the ways of a humble servant. Proverbs 29:23 informs us that:

A man’s pride will bring him low, but a humble spirit will obtain honor.

Backwards as it sounds, if you want to gain honor, you must first have a heart of humility. It will be hard for others to resist you if you “kill them with kindness”. On the other hand, you will lose their respect by leaps and bounds if you harbor pride and selfishness.

People who invariably put themselves first will find that others tend to put them last.

Dr. Nido R. Qubein

When a woman has gained an honorable name through her humble heart of service, her influence will be far-reaching. Her good reputation may lead her to such joys as: winning an unbelieving husband to Christ, returning an erring child to the faith, and reaching the lost.

The second reason to follow the rule of “I before thee (except after He)” is that you just may…


Generally speaking, putting others first will cause them to return the favor by putting you first. Certainly there are exceptions to this rule, but for the most part, your average person cannot but help to be convicted by the ways of a humble servant. Luke 6:38 says…

Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure – pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.

When we live a sacrificial lifestyle, it compels others to do the same. People just love giving to givers. I know that some of my greatest joys in life have been in being able to “give back” in some meaningful way to those who have been lavish towards me.

They say love is the best investment; the more you give, the more you get in return.

Audrey Hepburn

When a woman gives freely of her time, talents, and treasures to others, she will likely find herself the recipient of special attention in return. A husband who is well-fed and well-sexed will likely feel compelled to shower his wife with affections. A child who is doted upon by his mother will likely adopt a more compliant and cheerful attitude towards her. A friend who has been helped in time of need will likely be there to help a gal out when she is struggling.

The third reason to follow the rule of “I before thee (except after He)” is that you will…


Invariably speaking, putting others first will cause God to pour His favor upon you. Without exception, our Lord cannot but help to be called upon by the ways of a humble servant. In Ecclesiastes 11:1, we are given this assurance:

Cast your bread on the surface of the waters, for you will find it after many days.

There is a sure promise that we will be rewarded for the good that we do for others. It may not be today, it may not be tomorrow, it may not be until “after many days”…it may not even be in this life on earth. Still, we know that our Father will not forget to repay His humble servants.

God’s greatest reward goes to those who serve without expectation of reward. It goes to those who serve without fanfare; those who quietly go about seeking ways to help others; those who minister to others simply because they love God and God’s children.

Dieter F. Uchtdorf

When a woman knows that her ultimate reward comes from God, and not man, she will no longer serve with ulterior motives. She will submit to and serve her husband without expectation of romantic gestures. She will nurture and serve her children without expectation of flawless obedience. She will befriend and serve others without expectation of pomp and praise.


In conclusion…

When you follow the rule of “I before thee (except after He)”, you may just find that you gain their respect and gain your return.

We must remember, though, that there are many people in this world who still live under the worldly rule of “I before thee”. Such folks may never change their demeanor towards you…no matter how humble your heart is, no matter how much you serve them, no matter how deeply you wish to see a soft heart reflected back from them.

Nonetheless, as Christians, we take great comfort in the fact that we will gain His reward for our service when this life is all said and done. When we put others first, it does not escape our Lord’s notice. When we esteem others as better than ourselves and lay down our own wants and desires to their benefit, we become great in the eyes of God…

The measure of a man’s greatness is not the number of servants he has, but the number of people he serves.

John Hagee

For God’s glory,
CA Bolks


Chelsea Bolks is a church of Christ minister’s wife, and the home educating mother of two children. She and her family currently reside in Northwest Iowa.