I think it is accurate to state that most of us would say that we live our lives according to an ethical standard. That standard includes such moral virtues as honesty, respect, fairness, etc. Yet, the Ethical conduct of our life is constantly under pressure to bend to the needs of Exigency and Expediency. Three ‘E’ words that make all the difference in how we live and conduct our lives. It is better to live right, and to choose right in advance of exigency than to allow expediency to prevail and push you into actions opposed to your values.
First Timothy 5:1-2 states: “Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were you father. Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.” This passage resonates with the ramifications of “being created in the image of God.” We all hold this in common, regardless of race or creed. Treating any person in a way that demeans or disrespects them, damages our own personhood.
In the Bible book of Proverbs, Solomon writes “Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding.” (3:13) The book of Proverbs is Solomon’s manual on wisdom. According to Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, the foundation of wisdom is clearly identified: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (1:7a). For “fear” in this context read “awe.” Until we realize how awesome God is, and who we are in comparison true wisdom will be an illusion.
At the end of 1 Corinthians 13, Paul identifies 3 things which should be a part of our lives: faith, hope, and love. These attitudes/actions/characteristics form the core of a fulfilled life, and even more importantly, a life that is pleasing to God. Paul concludes the chapter by saying, “but the greatest of these is love.” In context it is easy to understand that what he means, is that we should show love in all our interactions, not just toward the people we like or the ones we know. EVERYBODY!
Grace is unmerited favor or kindness, for instance, when you do something nice for someone for no reason at all you are being gracious. Mercy is unwarranted forgiveness, or at the very least, unwarranted forbearance. Accountability is the process whereby an individual is held responsible, to an expectation. Let’s face it, finding the right balance in showing grace and mercy, while holding people accountable can be challenging.
Bob Dylan, a singer and musician, in one of his songs says” you’re gonna serve somebody, it maybe the Lord, it maybe the Devil, but you’re gonna serve somebody”. He is right on target: you are serving somebody whether you know it or not. This is an unavoidable fact of life. Joshua from the Old Testament said to the nation of Israel after they entered the promised land:
Gossip is the weapon of an assassin targeting relationships. Gossip is the elevation of ME ahead of WE. Gossip is the destroyer of that which God values most: relationships. Those who gossip deal in a narcotic that, in the short term, make themselves feel better, but in the long term destroys their own peace and joy.
Most people would say they know, and do, the “right” thing. However, to say you can be trusted to do the “right” thing is meaningless without a standard. After all, what does “right” mean? All you are really saying is that you will do what feels appropriate to you at that moment based on your perception of “right.”
Here is a shock: everything ISN’T all about YOU. I know that this may come as a surprise. You may feel as if you are the center of the universe, but it simply is not true. Every indication is that the context of LIFE has everything to do with RELATIONCHIPS, and relationships, by definition, includes others.
The pendulum swing for all our actions ranges from no effort to a perfectionistic ideal which is impossible to achieve. The medium point of the pendulum swing is “good enough.” Jim Collins wrote in his book “Good to Great” that “good is the enemy of great.” His point is that when we achieve good, most think that is “good enough.” I want to suggest there is a place beyond good that I’ve called Excellent.