Word of the Week: Ethical

In one of his devotional books, LeRoy Brownlow told a story about a man explaining ethics to his son.

“Ethic is vital to a workable and confident society,” he said. “For instance, a friend paid me back today a loan with a new hundred-dollar bill. Later I discovered there were two hundred-dollar bills stuck together. This immediately presented a question of ethics.” Pausing he said…

“…Should I tell your mother?”

This twisted humor reflects a sad irony in our culture today regarding ethics. Our ethical behavior too often becomes whatever we choose to define it to be.

Ethics involves moral principles pertaining to right or wrong in conduct. Or as Peter Stewart put it, “Ethics is knowing the difference between what you have the right to do and what is right to do.”

Ethical behavior is too often compromised because we take the easy way out. We do what is convenient. Comfortable. And personally beneficial. For instance, when we later realize we’re given too much change at the grocery store, do we take the time to return it? Or just let it go?

Some compromise their ethics because of an inordinate desire to be successful. To win at all costs. Several years there was a young man where I preached whose business practices were called into question by another member. He was accused of misrepresenting his product and promising services his company could not deliver. When accused, he didn’t deny it. But responded, “That’s just business.”

The issue, however, is deeper than just one’s business practices. John Maxwell once wrote a book entitled, “There’s No Such Thing As Business Ethics.” The point of his book was, that there’s just ethics. Ethics are ethics. And cannot be altered to fit various roles or relationships in our lives.

Of course, in an era of relativism that proclaims “there is no absolute truth,” it isn’t too surprising that ethics are often compromised. The “no absolutes” claim is absurd. And the individualistic assertion that “what is truth for you may not be truth for me” is ridiculous. Yet, it is often practiced.

The Bible offers the answer to our ethical dilemma in simple terms.

1. “Do what is honorable in the sight of all…” (Rom. 12:17).

2. …Putting away lying, “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor” (Eph. 4:25).

3. “Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud” (Mk. 10:19).

4. “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them,” (Matt. 7:12).

Actually, most ethical challenges could be solved by simply applying point #4, The Golden Rule. Regardless of one’s religious views or theological interpretations, we can understand and accept the essence of The Golden Rule. William Barclay called it “The Everest of Ethics.” Paul Earnhart was right when he wrote, “How well this simple rule of conduct cuts through our self-justifying subterfuges!” Indeed it frees us from self-interest and self-centered behavior that cuts corners for our own personal gain. It offers a clearer insight and a deeper perspective on ethical conduct and its implications.

Furthermore, “Practicing the Golden Rule,” opined Warren Wiersbe, “releases the love of God in our lives and enables us to help others, even those who want to hurt us.”

The answer to the complex problems our culture faces was well summed up by Dr. Ben Carson. “There’s no question that as science, knowledge and technology advance, that we will attempt to do more significant things. And there’s no question that we will always have to temper those things with ethics.”

This issue, of course, what standard of ethics will we apply? The response by Peter Drucker points us in the right direction.

“There is only one ethics, one set of rules of morality, one code: that of individual behavior in which the same rules apply to everyone alike.”

“Let’s Renew in ‘22” our commitment to ethical conduct.

–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman

1 Comment

Filed under Renew in '22, Word of the Week

One response to “Word of the Week: Ethical

  1. Pingback: Weekly Recap: May 15-21 | ThePreachersWord

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.