By: Wilfred Atigbi (Bishop)
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT CHRISTIAN VALUES OR LIVING?
Frequently Asked Questions by sincere believers:
- How can I follow and obey God’s will and live a Godly life?
- How can I be faithful to God in my everyday life?
- What does it mean to do good works?
- What are Christian moral and ethical values?
- What does God require of me?
- How can I obey the Word of God?
- How can I live my life in Christ?
- What should I do to avoid sinning?
- How can I be a child of God without falling?
- How can I show my love for God and others believers?
- What are the values taught in the Bible?
- What are the Christian virtues?
Many people sincerely want to live Godly lives, but we often hear conflicting ideas of what that means.
- WORSHIP GOD RIGHTLY:
One day a religious leader asked Jesus which of commandment was most important.
“The most important one,” answered Jesus,” is this; ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. (Mark 12:28-30).
The Hebrews of Old Testament times tended to lapse into worship of pagan deities and statues of animals or other objects, but anything that takes the place of our devotion to God becomes an idol or false god, and that is forbidden by the first of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-6). Jesus particularly singled out love of wealth as a false god (Matt. 6:24; Luke 16:13), and other Bible passages mention greed, covetousness, arrogance, gluttony and pride as being equivalent to idolatry.
In today’s world, many things compete against God for our devotion. These are some of the things that are not necessarily bad in moderation, but can become modern-day idolatry if we let them become too important to us:
- Excessive attention to material things such as houses, cars, clothes, jewelry, physical appearance, entertainment, etc.
- Pursuit of wealth, power, fame, pleasure or status
- Excessive devotion to self, job, hobbies, country, ideologies, heroes, leaders, even family
(Phil.3:18-19, 1 Tim. 6:6-11, 2 Tim. 3:1-5, Heb. 13:5, 1 Peter 4:1-6).
- RESPECT ALL PEOPLE:
After saying ‘Love the Lord your God’ is the most of the commandment, Jesus continued. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:31)
The English word “love” has many different meanings, but the Greek word, agape, used in the New Testament, is commonly known as “Christian love.” It means respect, affection, benevolence, good-will and concern for the welfare of the one loved.
In His Parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus made the point that we should extend our Christian love to all people of the world, regardless of race, religion, nationality or any other artificial distinction. We must practice that Christian love even toward our enemies! (Matt. 5:43-48, Gal. 6:10)
Jesus Golden Rule is, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” We should not say or do anything unless we can answer “Yes” to the question, “Would I want that said or done to me?” Neither should we fail to do the good things we would expect of others. (Lev. 19:18, Matt. 7:12, Luke 6:31, John 13:34-35, Rom. 13:8-10, 15:1-2, James 2:8).
- BE HUMBLE:
Humility or being humble is a quality of being courteously respectful to others. It is the opposite of aggressiveness, arrogance, boastfulness and vanity. Acting with humility does not in any way deny our own self-worth. Rather, it affirms the inherent worth of all persons. Humility is exactly what is needed to live in peace and harmony with all persons. It dissipates anger and heals old wounds. It allows us to see the dignity and worth of God’s people. Humility distinguishes the wise leader from the arrogant power seeker. (Prov. 17:7, Matt. 20:20-28, Matt. 5:5-9, Mark 9:35, 1Cort. 10:24, Ephesians 4:1-6, Phil. 2:2-8, 2 Tim. 2:22-25)
- BE HONEST:
Honesty and integrity are held as very important values throughout the Bible, and any deception to gain any advantage or harm another is prohibited by God (Exd. 20:16). Deception may be by false statements, half-truth, or failing to tell the whole truth. It is all too common in advertising, business dealings, politics and everyday life. We must strongly resist the temptation of engaging in any form of theft, cheating, deception, slander or gossip.
Rationalization is a form of self-deception by which we convince ourselves that sinful actions are justified in order to achieve a good result, but this is really just another form of dishonesty (Gal. 6:7-8, James 1:26, 1 John 1:8). Holiness is in living by God’s commandments, not in achieving an end result (Matt. 4:8-10, 16:26). In Biblical teaching, the ends do not justify the means. (Luke 3:12-14, 16:10-12, 2 Cort 4:1-2, 2 Cort. 8:21, Eph. 4:25, Phil. 4:8-9, Col. 3:9, Heb. 13:18, 1 Peter 2:12, 3:10).
- LIVE A GOOD MORAL LIFE:
Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your body. (1Cort. 6:19-20).
Jesus gave a list of actions that constitute immoral uses of the body: evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, arrogance and foolishness. The apostle Paul gave similar lists. (Gal. 5:19-20).
We often think of morality in terms of sexual sins, but according to Jesus, sins such as slander, greed, covetousness, deceit, and arrogance are equally immoral.
(Rom. 13:11-14, 1 Cort. 6:9-11, Gal. 5:16-26, Eph. 5:1-7, Col. 3:5-10, 1 Thess. 4:3-9).
- BE GENEROUS WITH TIME AND MONEY:
The Bible tells us to share generously with those in need, and good things will come to us in turn. Each of us has something to offer to someone in need. We can give our money and our time to charity, be a friend to someone who is sick or lonely, do voluntary work or choose a service-oriented occupation. We may give unselfishly our time to our spouse, Children or parents. (2Cort.9:5-7). This does not mean we are obligated to share our time or money with people who are clearly not in need but just want to use or abuse us (2 Thess. 3:10-12, Acts 20:35, Rom. 12:6-8, 1 John 3:17).
- PRACTICE WHAT YOU PREACH; DON’T BE A HYPOCRITE:
If there was any group of people that Jesus couldn’t stand, it was hypocrites. The Pharisees of Jesus time who were religious and political that insisted on very strict observance of Biblical laws on tithing and ritual purity and other matters. At the same time, many of the Pharisees forgot the true spirit and intent of the laws and became self-indulgent, self-righteous, snobbish, and greedy. That led Jesus to remark as, woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside, you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness. (Matt. 23:27-28).
It is not the things we say that really matters; it is the things that we do (Matt. 7:15-20). If we claim to be Christians but do not let Jesus teachings guide our lives, we are nothing but hypocrites. (Matt. 6:1-7, 7:1-5, Luke 20:46-47, Romans 2:21-24, James 1:22-27, 1 John 1:5-7, 1John 4:19-21).
- Share your faith with others. One of Jesus’ commands to His followers was to spread His word. In (Mark 16:15-16), he said: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” To share your faith with others, look for opportunities to talk about what your relationship with Christ means to you. This might mean talking to strangers about your beliefs, or it may sometimes mean showing God’s love by your actions toward others.
- Earlier in the book of Mark, Jesus says that you should be proud to share your faith: “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” ( 5:14-16)
- DON’T BE SELF-RIGHTEOUS:
No one is perfect, we are all sinners in one way or other (Rom. 3:23, Rom. 1:8). Living a moral life means taking responsibility for controlling our behavior and utterances. If we say or even think we are better than people we consider to be sinners, we are guilty of the sin of self-righteousness. It is not our right to look down on, criticize, judge, condemn, or try to control other people based on our perception. Judgement is to be left to God. Jesus said do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye. (Matt 7:1-5).
- DON’T HOLD A GRUDGE:
Jesus said there is no place for hatred, holding a grudge, revenge, retaliation or getting even in the life of a Christian.
You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth. But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. (Matt. 5:38-40). You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I tell you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. (Matt 5:43-45).
Bearing a grudge and seeking revenge are never appropriate responses to a perceived wrong. A grudge destroys the grudge-holder with bitterness, and revenge only escalates hostilities. Jesus told us we must reconcile with our adversaries, forgive their transgressions, and let go of the anger that may tempt us to commit an act of revenge. (Matt. 5:21-26, Romans 12:17-21, 1 Corinthians 6:7-8, 1 Thessalonians 5:15, 1 Peter 3:9).
- FORGIVE OTHERS:
If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins. (Matt. 6:14-15). God is merciful and forgives our sins and failings. In the same way, we must be merciful and forgive other people who sin against us or do us harm. (Matt. 5:7, 18:21-35, Mark 11:25, Luke 17:3-4, Col. 3:12-14, Eph. 4:32).
The secret of a successful Christian life demands that one lived by faith in the God who saved us, empowers us, seals us for heaven, and by whose power we are kept forever. The day-to-day life of faith is one that grows and strengthens as we seek God in His Word and through prayer and as we unite with other Christians whose goal of Christlikeness is similar to our own.