Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Ethics In An Unethical World

A friend recently said to me, "You don't know whom to trust anymore."  He was not only referring to the economic woes on Wall St. among some of our major financial institutions, but to the small businesses and financial establishments on the local scene, as well.    Among the things which have contributed to these woes are the unethical practices of some.  False advertising is used to promote a product.  Inaccurate weights and measures are used in selling goods.  Businesses cut corners in order to compete for customers.  Some seem to be intent on fleecing the public for their personal gain.  Such conduct makes everyone suspicious of the other.

The health of our entire economic community, as well as our personal relationships, is built upon high ethical standards. When you take your car to a repairman, you want to have confidence in the mechanic and know he will do the work you have requested. You don't want to be told about work that in reality doesn’t need to be done. In like manner, employers have a right to expect an honest day's work for an honest day's pay. Who would want to be operated on by a surgeon who cheated his way through medical school? Neither do we want officers who cheated their way through a military academy to command our fighting men.

I'm convinced that business ethics should be taught in our colleges and universities throughout the country. Future business leaders need to be taught a value system that increases profits by producing a quality product and by building greater customer satisfaction and confidence. Primarily, however, the establishment of a good value system begins in the home. Children learn their values from their parents. Honesty and integrity is not instilled in children when they see their parents turn in false income tax forms or refuse to pay their debts. A mother who misrepresents the age of her children in order to get a discount is not teaching them honesty. A father who turns back the speedometer on his car before selling it sets an example of dishonesty.

The apostle Paul said in Romans 12:17, "Provide for things honest in the sight of all men." This statement is not only good advice for business dealings, but its practice is essential to spiritual vitality. Solomon said in Proverbs 11, "A false balance is an abomination to the Lord, but a just weight is His delight." The greatest statement on ethical conduct was related by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. He simply said, "However you want people to treat you, so treat them" (Matthew 7:12). The practice of this principle would eliminate dishonesty and promote respect for one another. Unethical practices do not need to be employed in order to make a living. Neither do they need to be used to transact business profitably. In fact, when people see that they are being dealt with in a fair and honest way, they will not only come back but tell others, which will greatly improve business.

Undoubtedly, if world leaders treated each other as they would like to be treated, international relations would improve dramatically. If CEOs and other leaders of some of our major corporations had practiced this principle, we might not be facing the financial difficulties we are facing today in America. Treating others as you would like them to treat you is not only good business sense, it’s just good common sense.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

In the Absence of God

On the CBS Early Show a few years ago, Jane Clayson asked Anne Graham, "How could God let something like this happen?"  She was referring to the tragic results of Hurricane Katrina as it came ashore on the Gulf coast.  Miss Graham gave a classic response, "I believe God is deeply saddened by this, just as we are, but for years we’ve been telling God to get out of our schools, to get out of our government and to get out of our lives.   And being the gentleman He is, I believe He has calmly backed out."  Miss Graham correctly observed that, at least a small but vocal segment, of American society has been seeking to remove the influence of God from our community.

On another CBS program, Ben Stein concluded that this trend started when the atheist, Madeleine Murray O'Hare, complained that she didn’t want prayer in our schools, and we said okay.  Later, someone else said that we should not read the Bible in school.  And we said okay.  Then, Dr. Benjamin Spock said we shouldn’t spank our children when they misbehave because their personalities would be warped and we might damage their self-esteem.  And we said okay.   Stein commented, "Now we’re asking ourselves why our children have no conscience, why they don’t know right from wrong, and why it doesn’t seem to bother them to kill strangers, their classmates, and themselves."

The character of our children of tomorrow is greatly shaped by what they learn from us today. When people deny the existence of God and, thus, seek to remove any reference of Him from society, it isn’t that they no longer believe in something, but they believe in almost anything. Stein observed that it is strange how people believe what the newspapers say, but question what the Bible says. Messages sent over the internet spread like wildfire, but people hesitate to send messages regarding the Lord. Lewd, crude, vulgar and obscene articles pass freely through cyberspace, but public discussion of God is suppressed in the school and workplace. Dysfunctional relationships are often glamorized on television while normal family relations are portrayed as abnormal.

Is it any wonder that the very moral foundation of our nation is crumbling? The psalmist wrote, "If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?" (Psalms 11:3). God's word, the Bible, is the only viable moral compass for mankind; yet, it is being attacked as being outdated, impractical and unreliable. Frankly, it's wearisome to listen to the vocal minority who loudly protest the Bible's influence in our society. It’s also frustrating to see spineless politicians who willingly give them a listening ear.

Jesus taught us by precept and example how to live the greatest and most productive life we could ever experience. He came to earth that we might have life and have it abundantly (John 10:10). He taught us how to get along with one another, how to build strong families, and how to enrich our character. He went about doing good and healing those oppressed of the devil (Acts 10:38). Jesus willingly died on the cross, not in order to obtain glory from men as a martyr, but that He might provide the hope of eternal life. It is the tragedy of all tragedies for any society to seek to remove His influence from their midst.

In the absence of God men will believe almost anything.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Thinking About Love

Allen Webster in the excellent publication, House to House/Heart to Heart, provides the following information about the word "love." According to, there are at least 32,507 books currently in print with the word love in the title (over 145,000 that deal with the subject of love). There are more than 11,000 popular albums/CDs with love in the title. A Google search of the Internet reveals that there are at least 121,000,000 Websites that use the word love as one of their key words.

Love, it seems, is on the mind of everyone. And, why not? Love cements a relationship between a man and a woman when they decide to get married. Their love for one another deepens through the years and, truly, they become as one. Love motivates parents to provide for their children and educate them. When they are physically or emotionally injured, loving parents suffer with them. When children succeed in life or accomplish a significant task, parents rejoice with them. Behind every kind and benevolent deed is love; or, at least, it should be.

Have you considered the fact that there are different kinds of love? For instance, there is the kind of love that is based on mere physical attraction. Unfortunately, some marriages are entered into with no deeper love than this and the results are disastrous. Physical attraction alone is no foundation for a lasting and meaningful relationship. Genuine love is far greater than physical attraction or emotional attachment. It involves more than just a feeling; it includes action as well.

There is no greater illustration of that kind of love than God’s affection for man. Consider these statements from the Bible. "But God commendeth his own love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). This passage reminds us that even when we are rebellious against God, He loves us. He demonstrated that love by sending His Son to die for us. The "golden text" of the Bible describes it this way: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son" (John 3:16). Through the gift of His Son, God has provided an opportunity for us to be in a saved relationship with Him. In Matthew 7:13-14, we learn that not everyone will be saved. The lost condition of man, however, is not due to God's failure to love him and provide an opportunity for him to be saved. The apostle John declared, "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins" (1 John 4:10).

Of the fact that God loves us, we can be certain. The important question is, "Do we love God?" It is not enough to declare with our lips that we love God. The proof of that love must be demonstrated by action. Jesus said, "If ye love me, ye will keep my commandments" (John 14:15). John stated in the inspired text, "For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments" (1 John 5:3). One's love for God will change the nature of his language from vulgarity and profanity to purity and praise. His conduct will change from immorality to virtue. His attitude will change from selfishness, vengefulness, and bitterness to servant hood, forgiveness, and kindness. His emphasis will change from "getting ahead in life" to making a life.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Discipline in the Home

One of the favorite vacation spots for my wife and me is Gatlinburg, TN. We try to spend a few days each year in this vacation mecca. We enjoy the beautiful scenery and relaxed atmosphere. We spend much of our time walking the main street of Gatlinburg and visiting the various shops. We enjoy meeting people from various sections of our country who choose this as one of their vacation areas. In fact, there are people from foreign countries who visit, as well. It is always a time of refreshing relaxation for us.

On one of our trips, when we were eating at a local restaurant, there was a disturbance at a nearby table. A mother and two of her children were at this table. The oldest appeared to be about eight or ten years old. Evidently, he was being instructed by his mother to do something to which he objected. The child became rather vocal in his resistance and finally hit his mother in the face with a closed fist. We were shocked that a child would treat his mother with such disrespect, especially at such a tender age. We were shocked even further when the mother did absolutely nothing to correct the child for his gross misbehavior.

I'm afraid that what we witnessed is more commonly practiced in homes across America than we like to imagine. Children are growing into adulthood with little or no guidance. They are frequently left to fend for themselves in the development of their character and, more often than not, with tragic results. They grow up having little respect for authority; consequently, they are constantly in trouble at school, have difficulty socializing with their peers, and end up in trouble with the law. More than likely the lifestyle they have developed is perpetuated when they try to establish their own home and rear children. As a result, society’s ills continue to increase in an ever-widening circle.

The administration of proper discipline is one of the fundamental responsibilities God has placed in the hands of parents. He intends that our children be given proper guidelines in life so that they can discern between right and wrong conduct.
"Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him" (Prov. 22:15). God has said, "Train up a child in the way he should go…" (Prov. 22:6). Part of the training necessarily involves proper discipline.

Here are some ground rules for disciplining your children.
Keep your word. Make no idle threats or promises. Do not harangue. It is hard to find the off-switch on some mothers and fathers once they get started scolding. Be just. Children have an acute sense of fair play. If punishment is involved, make it fit the situation. Teach your child that forgiveness is real; that you have been the recipient of forgiveness yourself. Whenever you can, as the child grows older, discuss situations which reflect on life’s values so that he can construct his own value system. The exercise of proper discipline is not the same as abuse, but is a God-ordained way of teaching children acceptable and unacceptable behavior.

Discipline yields a harvest of righteousness in our lives and in the lives of our children. It is the password to freedom; it gives delight to the heart.