7 March, 2016 40 days of change-Lent, 2016
Ethical – May integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for you. Psalm 25:21
This week’s characteristics all relate to the characteristic of integrity. Living ethically may be considered the framework for a life of integrity. A person with integrity builds their daily life upright on the framework of their ethics. The starting point is to construct a set of valued principles. Most people no longer view ethics as one set of principles for all, but rather being ethical only requires one to have their own set of values and to live in alignment with those values. A mass murderer once argued that he was still ethical despite his murderous ways for the act of killing was consistent with his ethics. A person’s ethics may be inconsistent with the populous view or the law of the lands. Christian ethics may hold both those inconsistencies, but we don’t have the freedom to create our own unique set of principles. God has set these out in the Bible, and they include loving God, loving our fellow human and doing good.
When Jesus walked the earth there was a well-developed list of fundamental rules by which godly people were expected to exist. They had been created through hundreds of years of religious observance. Jesus breached those rules, not because he didn’t have ethics, but he had a different set of ethics that did not comply with the law of the day or popular practices. He argued that his actions were based on the ethics of his Father, which he summarized in the pronouncement of loving God and loving others. These two ethical precepts ruled his every action. For example, to allow a woman to waste valuable perfume and touch his feet broke any number of the common standards of his day, but served the two-prong purpose of loving God and loving others. Jesus was often challenged on his behaviour and was always able to point to the God-honouring premises by which he chose to act as he did.
To be able to live ethically, one must take some time to consider the moral principles by which we will live. It is a reasonable assumption that many of us have adopted a set of ethics from our family, friends and culture. The process of this adoption creates a lack of awareness of our ethics and the possibility of choosing ethics that are not of God, or having no ethics at all; all these possibilities leave us exposed to living without integrity. To create an ethical framework, we need not reinvent the proverbial wheel, but rather we need to intentionally choose which wheel we will use to transport ourselves along life’s journey. The two-wheeled principles of Christ, to love God and love others, provide simple clarity to most situations. Pause today and consider the areas of your life that you are most likely to do without much thought: the monotonous part of your job, the habitual times at home, the mindless section of your day. Would the love ethics of Christ bring intentionality and purpose to those portions of your life, and that much more integrity?