Personal values are things that we believe in. They are a composite of our experiences, learnings, and decisions and can be positive, constructive, and even healthy, or they can be harmful, destructive, and unhealthy. Values define who we are and influence the direction of how we make choices in life. The strength of our values can give us energy that will define our future. However, values are not like our physical characteristics but can be learned, changed, and even controlled. There are five probable sources for a person’s values.
- Family and upbringing: Values often start developing in childhood and are heavily influenced by the values of a person’s family and cultural background.
- Education and environment: The values a person learns through their education and social environment, including peers and community, also play a significant role.
- Personal experiences: Life experiences such as successes, failures, and even hardships help to shape and refine a person’s values.
- Religion and spirituality: Religious and spiritual beliefs play a significant role.
- Media and social culture: The values and messages conveyed through our highly connected media and social culture also influence a person’s values.
There is one fundamental assumption that should be taken before we continue. That assumption is that you seek eternal life. Jesus’ resurrection proves we were not made for this world! Your values must include this fundamental belief, that there is life after death. Without such a belief, there is no purpose and direction to life. With this assumption, the pursuit of values should mirror the values of Jesus Christ as He is the way to eternal life. Jesus had many strong values but there were a few main themes.
- Love: Jesus Christ taught that love is the most important commandment, and that love should be the guiding principle in how we interact with others.
- Compassion: Jesus Christ showed compassion towards all people, but especially those who were marginalized or oppressed, and He taught that we should do the same.
- Forgiveness: Jesus Christ taught that we should forgive others, even when they have wronged us, and that forgiveness is essential for healing, reconciliation, and peace.
- Humility: Jesus Christ lived a life of humility, and He taught that we should put the needs of others before our own and serve others with a selfless attitude.
- Integrity: Jesus Christ lived a life of integrity and honesty, and he taught us that we should be truthful and transparent in our dealings with others.
- Generosity: Jesus Christ taught that we should be generous with our time, talents, testimony, and treasure. He specifically focused on those needing the most, widows and orphans.
- Justice: Jesus Christ spoke out against injustice and oppression, and he taught that we should work to promote justice and equality for all people. He also held people accountable for their choices. Jesus never gave a special class of people special privileges or exceptions.
Why is any of this important today?
(John 14:6)1NIV New International Version Translations – “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’”
Becoming more like Jesus, and sharing His values is no easy task. We live in a world that hates Him and will hate you if your values are like Jesus’. This fact forces you to make a critical decision about how you live and how you behave. As a follower of Jesus, you do not have the option of choosing values that help you “fit in,” but deny God’s values. Today, however, to be accepted by the world, your choices and your values require alignment with “Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG)” goals. You need to pick which world you want to align to. What exactly does that mean? It means that you need to be willing to explore the source of your value system, compare it to the “Gold Standard,” Jesus’s values, and then be willing to change your mind. You must bury the “bias,” search for the Truth, maybe even change the channel, and then be willing to admit when you are wrong and change.
(Proverbs 4:23) – “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
This proverb tells you that you will need a strong sense of personal ethics and morality. This includes principles such as honesty, integrity, respect for others, and a commitment to fairness and justice. You will need to support people who embody those same positive values and behaviors. The people who lead our nation serve as powerful examples to others. This is how good values are spread throughout a nation. Unfortunately, picking the wrong people is how bad values are also spread. The ability to reflect on one’s own beliefs and values can help you identify what is truly important and align your actions with those of Jesus Himself.
(Colossians 3:23-24) – “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”
In a democracy, political differences are inevitable, but when political divisions become increasingly polarized, it leads to a deepening of social and cultural divides. As you work hard for God, your choices and values are going to affect others. Ultimately, good, and positive personal values, including your own beliefs and experiences, can be a positive influence on others. Also, expect to make a few enemies along your journey. Don’t make God one of them!
(James 1:22) – “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”
When there are stark disparities in wealth and opportunity, there is resentment and mistrust between different groups within a society. We must rely on God’s word for guidance, trust God, put our faith into action, and prioritize seeking God’s kingdom and righteousness. By following these principles, we can maintain strong values and live a life that not only honors God but is a positive influence on those around us. Ultimately, God calls us to “follow His Word with our actions.”
(Philippians 4:8) – “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
Personal growth and self-improvement include a commitment to ongoing learning, personal development, and self-reflection, as well as a willingness to take responsibility for one’s own life and choices. This also involves a desire to make a positive impact on the world and to help others, whether through volunteering, philanthropy, or other forms of service. The way information is disseminated in our world today can contribute to division if it is biased, unreliable, or sensationalized. This leads to different groups holding vastly different views and beliefs. Our role is to continually evaluate our beliefs and what we hear from the world against God’s Word and Truth. “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path” (Psalm 119:105). It is the only way to change a misdirected value to one aligned with Jesus.
Differences in cultural and social identities, including race, religion, and gender. These lead to divisions and tension if not managed appropriately. However, your role is not to sanitize the Gospel’s message of salvation. Nowhere in Scripture does it command Christians to accept the world. Our command is to stand in contrast to the world. It is important to note that all these factors do not act in isolation but are interconnected. The path to reducing division and promoting unity requires finding ways to bridge differences and foster common ground, while also acknowledging and respecting the diversity that exists within a society. However, common ground is not the acceptance of sinful values. We are called to forgiveness, and, in return, God calls humanity to repentance, not common ground.
(Matthew 6:33) – “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
We are called to guard our hearts, think about what is good and pure, work diligently for God, rely on His word for guidance, trust in God, put our faith into action, and prioritize seeking God’s kingdom and righteousness. There is no other option for a follower of Jesus other than to choose Him as the “Correct Path.” By following these principles, we maintain strong values and live a life that honors God.
- Does ESG develop a culture of victimhood where people and society excuse bad behavior?
- Ideas to Explore: No bail policies, failure to prosecute crime, reparations.
- Is society developing a class of people that believe they have a right to crime?
- Ideas to Explore: Repeat offenders not receiving rehabilitation. Condoning or even promoting drug use.
- Is part of repentance and restitution, changed behavior?
- Ideas to Explore: Repentance is meant to change but to whose values?
- If emotions, values, and beliefs are critical to life, how do change those that are contrary to God’s Truth?
- Ideas to Explore: Values are the basis of many of our biases, prejudices, attitudes towards things, including ourselves, and the judgments and decisions we make. Knowing God’s Truth is critical to developing good values.
- 1NIV New International Version Translations