Have you recovered from the tryptophan effect yet? Perhaps you are still enjoying some family time, battling the malls, or right back at it with work. Whatever the case, I am sure that one’s moral center is being challenged as we interact with the world, either directly or through conversation.
I can hear you now, "Wow, that seems heavy for a post-thanksgiving reflection.” Perhaps, but our moral center is always at work (and on display). I was reminded of this while prepping for Sunday’s message, and when I encountered these words from 2 Corinthians 13:8, "For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth.” Paul is talking about a specific interaction with the church in Corinth, but it makes a general application concerning ethos. All our interactions, every decision, every choice that we make must correspond with the truth or run the risk of sinking into a morass of largely self centered ambiguity.
This of course raises the question of standard. If not ourselves, then what should we be looking to as our guide, or “rule”? The framers of the Westminster Shorter Catechism many years ago answered this in a very satisfactory way:
Q: What rule hath God given to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him?
A: The word of God, which is contained in the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, is the only rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him.
When we say that the scriptures are the “rule” that directs how we are to glorify and enjoy our creator, we mean that it is the scriptures alone that provide the standard for our moral center. We mean that the Bible trumps man’s authority, church tradition, and our own opinions. We mean we will allow nothing that opposes God’s Word to dictate our actions or control our thinking. It means that we all must adhere to a standard of right and wrong formed outside of our own need for affirmation or self direction — “If it’s good for me, then it’s good; and if it’s bad for me, then it’s bad.” No matter how heart-wrenching or how socially, political, or culturally awkward it may feel, we must operate beyond ourselves.
This may put us at odds with those around us. We may feel out of step with the culture. We will have to make some hard choices. It is “rule” that applies to the highest levels of our country making decisions on foreign policy and big budgets, to the ways we interact on the playground, and to the people we host in our home. In every situation the tug toward expediency, safety, or immediate self-benefit will always exist. Rarely will these motivations align with the truth. It is the love of Christ which compels us to land with Paul: "for we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth."