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Today is
March 19, 2018
08:54 AM

Biblical values: Love God and people

We are faithful to Biblical values when we
love God as we honor truth,
disdain falsehood,
revere God’s identity and His order,
apply His law as our standard of behavior,
recognize the value and rhythm of life as we
express our individual liberty,
work in and through the family,
remain faithful to our commitments in honest commerce,
respect private property,
work for honest judicial order under authority,
knowing God wants His people to prosper as they glorify Him as we receive the benefit of His saving grace based upon the forgiveness He earned for us, as we share it by forgiving others as an expression of God’s love.

Love God; love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus told His disciples the summary of the law. In Matthew 22:37-40 He said, “Thou shall love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shall love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” How do we summarize what these commands should mean to us? God LIVES and He LOVES us. Now, how do we analyze the details?

Basic Commandment: Honor truth. “God spoke all these words, saying, I am the LORD thy God . . . You shall have no other gods before me.” Exodus 20:1-3. Genesis 1:1 explains, “In the beginning God…” We are to see reality as it is, see the God of the Universe for Who He is, and recognize that any other starting point would be false. Truth begins with recognizing its source. In John 14:6 Jesus proclaims, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” John 1:1 tells us is “the Word,” Who in the beginning “was.” John 8:58: “Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am…” He is truth. The foundation of Bible values is truth.

Disdain falsehood. Exodus 20:4-6 tells us, “You shall not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: you shall not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me.” The symbol tends to take upon itself the importance of the thing symbolized. We can wear a cross necklace if we wish, but we must recognize what it means. It speaks of the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ lives. It has no power in itself. If we find ourselves bowing before a statue, a picture or any symbolic memorial, we violate this commandment.

Observe God’s order, His law. Exodus 20:6 goes on, “and keep my commandments.” Knowing the commandments helps us keep humble before the Lord. We know we can never measure up to His perfection. We love Him for paying the price of our guilt. His price was total. Our response of gratitude should be to dedicate ourselves totally to Him.

Honor God’s identity, His name. Exodus 20:7 tells us, “You shall not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that takes his name in vain.” We are to recognize the personal reality of the God of the Universe, not “copping out” by calling him “the Man upstairs,” or “an unknown force,” or some other generic impersonal description. His name expressed in the original Hebrew is YHWH, a name so infinite it should not be spoken. His generic description in the scriptures is Elohim, a general name for “God.” He has many other descriptive titles, and when each is used they are to be voiced or written with reverence.

Value life. If God brought life to His universe, He must be the one to give purpose to it and to determine when it should end. Both abortion and euthanasia are an offense to Him. Exodus 20:13 warns, “You shall not kill.”

Recognize the rhythm of life. Even YHWH Himself admits He needs to rest. Exodus 20:8 commands, “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.” All of life has its ups and downs. We have day, then night, summer then winter, and all the variations between. The New Testament does not repeat the Sabbath Day commandment as a part of our New Covenant practices; but we do need to recognize the importance of regular structuring of a day of rest. This is one of the keys to good health.

Individual liberty is God’s plan for all. YHWH told Solomon that the people were asking for trouble when they asked for a King to rule over them. The reason is that God wants a direct one-on-one relationship between Himself and His people. He is infinitely capable of dealing personally with all people on earth. He created us all to be His companions. Of the many specific Bible references about liberty, an example is Jeremiah 34:17: “Therefore thus says the LORD; Ye have not hearkened unto me, in proclaiming liberty, every one to his brother, and every man to his neighbor: behold, I proclaim a liberty for you, says the LORD, to the sword, to the pestilence, and to the famine; and I will make you to be removed into all the kingdoms of the earth.” What YHWH is saying through Jeremiah is that either we stand for individual liberty under the Lord, or the Lord will stand by and watch as trouble consumes us.

Families are the source of social authority. Exodus 20:12 admonishes, “Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God gives you.” If we respect our parents, we can better live in peace with our neighbors.

Be faithful to commitments. Marriage involves commitment. Promises are to be kept. Exodus 20:14 commands, “You shall not commit adultery.”

There should be honest weights and measures in commerce. Proverbs 20:10 declares, “Diverse weights and diverse measures, both of them are alike abomination to the LORD.”

Authority is to be respected. Those in authority are placed there by God. A correct reading of Romans 13 should strike respect in the mind of any government official. In the United States there is no Caesar, no king. Here, the group called “We the People” is the earthly authority in charge of our nation. That group exercises supervision over government through voting in honest elections, serving on Grand Juries and Petit Juries, and when appropriate exercising “citizens arrest.”

Respect private ownership of property. In order to be secure in your possessions, you must respect the rights of others to control what is theirs. Exodus 20:15 insists, “You shall not steal.” Exodus 20:17 goes deeper: “You shall not covet your neighbor's house, you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbor's.”

Judicial conduct must be in accord with reality. Exodus 20:16 warns, “You shall not bear false witness against thy neighbor.”

God wants His people to prosper. Psalm 85:8-11 says, “I will hear what God the LORD will speak: for he will speak peace unto His people, and to His saints: but let them not turn again to folly. Surely His salvation is nigh them that fear him; that glory may dwell in our land. Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other. Truth shall spring out of the earth; and righteousness shall look down from heaven. Yea, the LORD shall give that which is.” God’s mercy springs forth to create His salvation for us so that we are able to allowing truth and righteousness to spread through us to His glory.

Express grace based upon the forgiveness we have received. Matthew 6:12 makes it clear that what we get from God we should share with others, in the words “forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”

-- Richard Palmquist
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