"The Right Kind of Ethics"
September 25, 2005Email to a FriendPrint
Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the Law. Romans 13:10
Business, government, and the professions seek to hold their members to ethical codes. The subject of ethics has to do with moral do's and don'ts. Ethics can be systematized and taught as a subject. But much more is necessary. You can, for example, outline on paper how the game of baseball is to be played. But if the individual has neither the desire nor the ability to play the game, very little is accomplished.
There is a right way to motivate, teach, and enable people to lead ethical and moral lives. It is the Christian way, the way of the Bible. It begins with God's moral law drawn from the Ten Commandments. The moral law is like a mirror. It shows us our sins and condemns us for them. It calls for love to God and the neighbor but does not give us the power to fulfill it. But God does not leave us in this predicament. In His grace He comes to us in the Gospel and makes us new people. He grants us faith in Jesus Christ, His own perfect Son, so that we trust in Him for the forgiveness of our sins. Our coming to faith was accompanied by a change of heart. We are His new creation in Christ. We are, as Jesus said to Nicodemus, born again, regenerated, converted. Now Christian life can begin, a life of good ethics and morals not merely in outward deeds and demeanor but in our innermost thoughts and emotions.
God's moral law is still there for Christians, not as the source of Christian ethics and morals, but as the norm, as a guide or rule showing us what good works God wants us to do. Through the Gospel true love is instilled, and God's Ten Commandments are our guide (not our motive) for its exercise. The apostle Paul writes, "Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the Law" (Romans 13:10). Again, Saint Paul: "The goal ... is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith" (1 Timothy 1:5).
It has been said, "Ethics teaches that man is a morally responsible being." Christian ethics go further. Through faith in the Gospel it enables a person to be morally responsible.
PRAYER: O Holy Spirit, deepen my faith in Jesus and make my life fruitful in every respect. Amen.
(Devotions from "With Jesus Every Day" copyright 1997, CPH. All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be printed, reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior written permission of Concordia Publishing House. Permission is granted for one-time emailing of this link to a friend. For information on other devotional material, please contact CPH at 800-325-3040 or visit CPH at www.cph.org.)