The devotional booklet Our Daily Bread relates a story about a man who loved old books.
One day he met an acquaintance who had just thrown away a Bible that had been stored in the attic of his ancestral home for generations. “I couldn’t read it,” the friend explained. “Somebody named Guten-something had printed it.”
“Not Gutenberg!” the book lover exclaimed in horror. “That Bible was one of the first books ever printed. Why a copy just sold for over two million dollars!”
His friend was unimpressed. “Mine wouldn’t have brought a dollar. Some fellow named Martin Luther had scribbled all over it in German.”
Now I imagine this story is apocryphal. However, it speaks to the issue of values. Of understanding what is valuable. And why it’s valuable.
Your Dictionary.com offers this definition of values.
“Values are a person’s or society’s beliefs about good behavior and what things are important.”
“A collection of guiding principles; what one deems to be correct and desirable in life, especially regarding personal conduct.”
Our values define us. They enjoin our ethics, morals, and mores. What we value we prioritize. Hyrum Smith says, “Whatever your particular governing values may be, they are represented by the clearest answers you can give to these questions: What are the highest priorities in my life? and Of these priorities which do I value the most?
Values, however, must have a basis. A foundation. A source that guides and directs us to give us stability, consistency, purpose, and direction in life.
Chuck Colson relates an incident shared by theologian and philosopher Francis Schaeffer when he shared a platform with John Gardner, a cabinet member during the Johnson administration. In his talk, Gardner spoke about the need to restore values to our culture. After he finished, a Harvard student asked him: “On what do you build your values?”
Gardner, usually articulate and erudite, paused, looked down, and said, “I do not know.”
Schaeffer’s commented, “I repeatedly encounter the same reaction. When I have contended before scholars and college audiences that in a secular, relativistic society there is no basis for ethics, no one has ever challenged me. In fact, in private they often agree.”
In this mid-term election year, we’re hearing politicians talk about values. And about restoring American values. What are these values? How do we define them? What is their source?
ThePreachersWord believes that we must restore a fundamental belief in the Bible, as an authorities source of unchanging values on which we can base and build our lives.
The apostle Peter affirmed that God provides “everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness (2 Pet. 1:3).
Paul affirmed that through divine revelation we are given insight and understating into God’s wisdom (Eph. 3:3-5). That we can understand His plan and purpose for our lives centered in Christ Jesus (Eph. 1). Furthermore, the Word He has perceived for us will show us what is right. Discourage us from what is wrong. Help us get right. Help us stay right. And equip us for every righteous work (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
At this point, Christian readers may be tempted to lament the wrong direction in which our world is headed. Yet, in the words on an old Chinese proverb “It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.”
What are we doing to light the way, and show forth the godly values to a culture engrossed in darkness?
Let each of us ask ourselves, do my values…
…Find their basis in God’s Word?
…Bless the lives of other people?
…Deal honestly with moral and ethical choices?
…Exemplify the golden rule?
…Embody the two great commandants of loving God and loving my neighbor?
…Treasure the spiritual over the material?
…Provide purpose to life?
…Value the soul more than the world’s riches?
…Transcend this life?
What we truly value will find a spiritual response to these questions. Why do we do what we do? What is our purpose in life? What is the object of our affection? What is the aim of our actions? What is the drive behind our jobs? Is there a greater cause? A higher calling? A deeper inducement? A richer incentive? A nobler mission?
Discerning Disciples know the right answer to these questions. But more importantly, we need to examine ourselves, to see if we are value-driven. Are we practicing what we profess?
As one writer observed, “It is unlikely you will become the person you want to be if the decisions you make conflict with your values.”
Let’s renew in ‘22, both the profession and practice of our values.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman