In our secular culture morality and ethics are flippantly dismissed. They are languishing, old-fashioned notions of behavior. Irrelevant.
Morality and ethics are not valued. They are laughed at. Chided. There is an impression that morality and ethics will just slow you down.
In secular culture there is generous acceptance of the person with zero integrity. Not just acceptance, often they are celebrated and highly rewarded. The phenomenon of Reality TV proves that. The political world is guilty of it. In business money speaks louder than integrity.
What about in Church?
If we have within us a willingness to fudge details or fudge reality in order for personal gain, we hurt people.
If we minimize or misrepresent truth in order to maximize and cover for failure or sin, we show ourselves to be liars.
If we are manipulative and controlling and then conceal it in altruistic ‘for the spreading of the gospel’, we are leading people astray with our ambiguous, ethically barren and loveless life. We are abusing and using people.
If we creatively come up with more reasons why behaving unethically is OK, we only enable further dishonest behavior. Our lives teach that truth is something that can be compromised. Honesty doesn’t matter.
We can have success and all it’s trappings, but if we hurt people, compromise truth and lie to get there, we show our faith in Jesus to be of no effect in our own life.
Does God accept us anyway? Yes! He absolutely does. We are forgiven and covered by grace. We are forgiven. Always forgiven.
BUT our behavior hurts other people. A whole lot of people. What do we say to God then? Do we try and convince Him of our altruistic “look what I did for you” ways? Taking His grace for granted, while trampling on other people. Do we think He doesn’t notice that?
When we carelessly hurt others, we reflect very badly on the gospel and on God. People will easily be turned off God and away from church–disillusioned. Are we not responsible for that?
The beginning of morality and ethics is perfect obedience to the Father. Jesus modeled this. And it produces in us good and loving behavior toward others.
Our good and loving behavior is not about trying to be good so we get closer to God. No. We can’t do that. We’ll just spiral down into religious legalism.
Our trying to be good is never good enough to get to God. It’s just gross false piety. Jesus has done that work on the cross for us. We are already close to God through faith in Jesus.
BUT…Our good, loving behavior–moral and ethical uprightness–is about faith producing in us good works, Ephesians 2:8-10. Another way to say that is walking obediently to God’s Word. The world will look and see God’s transforming work in our life by the way we love and treat others.
Little matters more than our ability to be honest before God and honest before people because only then are we truly free to love people. This builds integrity into our life and even more good loving behavior will follow. We will deal rightly and justly with people, in every situation and in very relationship.
God will trust us with even more…
Morality and ethics matter. They are more relevant than ever. They have never been more needed in the Church…