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What Does the Bible Say About Christian Values and Christian Life?

Frequently Asked Questions

Many people sincerely want to live Godly lives but we often hear conflicting ideas of what that means.

Introduction

Worldly values include wealth, power, pleasure, revenge, fame, vanity and status. These are the most important things to people who perceive no power or purpose beyond themselves. Worldly values promote jealousies, resentments and conflicts among people in accordance with the purposes of Satan (John 8:44, Acts 5:3, Romans 16:17-20, 2 Corinthians 4:4, Ephesians 2:1-3, 4:25-32, 2 Timothy 2:22-26, 1 John 3:8-10).

The values taught in the Bible are often the opposite of worldly values: kindness and respect for all people instead of power; humility instead of status; honesty and generosity instead of wealth; self-control instead of self-indulgence; forgiveness instead of revenge. Christian values promote peace and good will among people in accordance with the purposes of God. We will never achieve perfection in this life, but those people who strive to obey God often find a sense of joy and peace that no worldly rewards can match!

Here is a list of ten values or principles for living that are emphasized most strongly in the Bible:

1. Worship Only God

One day, a religious leader asked Jesus which of the commandments 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.' (NIV, 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 (Matthew 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:

Bible references: 1 Samuel 15:23, Matthew 6:31-34, 22:34-40, Mark 12:28-31, Luke 10:25-28, Acts 14:11-15, 1 Corinthians 10:14, Galatians 5:19-21, Ephesians 5:5, Colossians 3:5, Philippians 3:18-19, 1 Timothy 6:6-11, 6:17-20, 2 Timothy 3:1-5, Hebrews 13:5, 1 Peter 4:1-6
Other references: Love the Lord Your God, What Does the Bible Say About Money and Wealth?, Wealth

2. Respect All People

After saying "Love the Lord your God" is the most important of the commandments, Jesus continued,

The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these." (NIV, 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! (Matthew 5:43-48)

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.

Bible references: Leviticus 19:18, Matthew 7:12, 22:34-40, Mark 12:28-31, Luke 6:31, 10:25-28, John 13:34-35, Romans 13:8-10, 15:1-2, James 2:8
Other references: Love Your Neighbor as Yourself, What are the Greatest Commandment and the Parable of the Good Samaritan?, What Does the Bible Say About Love?

3. Be Humble

Humility or being humble is a quality of being courteously respectful of 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 all God's people. Humility distinguishes the wise leader from the arrogant power-seeker (Proverbs 17:7, Matthew 20:20-28).

Bible references: Matthew 5:5-9, 20:25-28, Mark 9:35, 1 Corinthians 10:24, Ephesians 4:1-6, Philippians 2:2-8, 2 Timothy 2:22-25,
Other reference: Humility

4. Be Honest

Honesty and integrity are held as very important values throughout the Bible, and any deception to gain an advantage or harm another is prohibited by the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:16) and other Bible passages. Deception may be by false statements, half-truths, innuendo, 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 to engage in any form of theft, cheating, deception, innuendo, 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 (Galatians 6:7-8, James 1:26, 1 John 1:8). Holiness is in living by the commandments, not in achieving an end result (Matthew 4:8-10, 16:26). In Biblical teaching, the ends do not justify the means!

Bible references: Exodus 20:15, Leviticus 19:35-36, Deuteronomy 16:19-20, 25:13-16, Psalms 15:1-5, 24:3-5, Proverbs 10:9, 11:1, 11:3, 12:22, 16:28, 19:1, 20:10, 24:28, 28:6, 28:20, Isaiah 33:15-16, Zechariah 7:9, Mark 10:19, Luke 3:12-14, 16:10-12, 2 Corinthians 4:1-2, 2 Corinthians 7:2, 2 Corinthians 8:21, Ephesians 4:25, Philippians 4:8-9, Colossians 3:9, Hebrews 13:18, 1 Peter 2:12, 3:10

5. Live a 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. (NIV, 1 Corinthians 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.

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.

Bible references: Exodus 20:1-17, Matthew 5:27-28, 15:18-19, Mark 7:20-22, 10:11-12, Romans 13:11-14, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, Galatians 5:16-26, Ephesians 5:1-7, Colossians 3:5-10, 1 Thessalonians 4:3-9

6. 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 volunteer work or choose a service-oriented occupation. We may give unselfishly of our time to our spouse, children or parents.

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 Thessalonians 3:10-12).

Bible references: Leviticus 19:9-10, 25:35-38, Deuteronomy 15:7-11, Proverbs 14:21, 28:27, Isaiah 58:10-11, Matthew 5:42, 6:1-2, 25:31-46, Luke 6:38, 12:33, 21:1-4, Acts 20:35, Romans 12:6-8, 2 Corinthians 9:5-7, Hebrews 13:1-3, 13:15-16, 1 Timothy 6:17-19, 1 John 3:17,
Other references: What Does the Bible Say About Generosity and Duty to the Poor?, What Does the Bible Say About Using Time, Talents and Wealth?, What Does the Bible Say About Money and Wealth?

7. Practice what you Preach; Don't be a Hypocrite

If there was any one group of people that Jesus couldn't stand, it was hypocrites! The Pharisees of Jesus' time were a religious and political party that insisted on very strict observance of Biblical laws on tithing, ritual purity and other matters. At the same time, many of the Pharisees forgot the true spirit and intent of the law and became self-indulgent, self-righteous, snobbish, and greedy. That led Jesus to remarks such 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. (NIV, Matthew 23:27-28)

It is not the things we say that really matter; it is the things that we do (Matthew 7:15-20). If we claim to be Christians but do not let Jesus' teachings guide our lives, we are nothing but hypocrites.

Bible references: Psalms 50:16-17, Isaiah 29:13-15, Jeremiah 7:1-11, Micah 3:11-12, Matthew 6:1-7, 7:1-5, 7:21-23, 15:7-9, 23:1-33, Luke 20:46-47, Romans 2:21-24, James 1:22-27, 2:14-24, 1 John 1:5-7, 2:3-6, 2:9, 4:19-21

8. Don't Be Self-righteous

No one is perfect; we are all sinners in one way or another (Romans 3:23, 1 John 1:8). Living a moral life means taking responsibility for controlling our own behavior. 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. Judgment 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. (NRSV, Matthew 7:1-5)

This does not deny the right of governments to maintain law and order and collect taxes. Jesus and other New Testament leaders supported the authority of civil governments (Matthew 22:15-22, Romans 13:1-7).

Bible references: Proverbs 26:12, Isaiah 5:21, Matthew 7:1-5, 9:10-13, 18:10, Luke 6:32-42, 7:36-50, 18:9-14, John 8:1-8, Romans 2:1-4, 3:23, 14:1, 14:10-12, 1 Corinthians 4:5, 13:1-7, 16:14, Galatians 6:1-3, James 2:12-13, 4:11-12, 1 John 1:8

9. 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. (NIV, Matthew 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. (NIV, Matthew 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.

Bible references: Leviticus 19:18, Psalms 37:8-9, Proverbs 10:12, 12:16, 15:1, 15:7, 19:11, 20:22, 24:29, Matthew 5:21-26, 5:43-48, Romans 12:17-21, 1 Corinthians 6:7-8, Ephesians 4:26, 4:31-32, Colossians 3:7-8, James 1:19-20, 1 Thessalonians 5:15, 1 Peter 3:9, 1 John 2:9-11, 4:19-21

10. 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. (NLT, Matthew 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.

Bible references: Matthew 5:7, 18:21-35, Mark 11:25, Luke 17:3-4, Colossians 3:12-14, Ephesians 4:32

Related Articles: What Does the Bible Say About Interpersonal Relations?, What Does the Bible Say About Forgiveness of Sins?, The Kingdom of God

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