11 CHRISTIAN VALUES THAT SHOULD SHINE BRIGHT IN YOU
(Keys to success they won’t teach you at Harvard Business School)
What if Harvard and the better business schools of the world have it all wrong?
What if the principles promoted by the leading education centers of the west hurt more than help?
What if Christian values were the values that should be taught and pursued?
What if all understood that humbleness and meekness aren’t weakness?
What if all thought one’s true self-worth isn’t tied to net worth?
What if all thought, putting God first is better than putting self first?
What if the rich and powerful believed that serving others is better than having servants?
If the what ifs were true, do you think we would see as many frustrated, anxious, and depressed people in the world today? It seems to me that many of our top schools and businesses today produce people who know how to make money, but not how to find happiness. In our culture, those who find fame rarely find fulfillment. The powerful aren’t at peace and those flush with material possessions are miserable. Christian values present a better way. Not only do Christian values guide one to make the better choice, they will also help people live better lives.
The World’s Values
I submit that the world’s major systems (business, media, government, and education) advance a particular set of rules (values) for the game of life. We’re told, “Play by these rules and you will be successful and happy.” Unfortunately, those who chase after the rules tied to social trends, the current fad, or the popular, find that running the rat race only leaves you unfulfilled and full of fleas.
Even before the pandemic, depression was the #1 illness in America. Year after year, the number attempting suicide increases and the average age for those attempting suicide decreases. Something’s terribly wrong—the values and approaches we’re encouraged to embrace is hurting more than helping. Identifying, adopting, and embracing Christian values is a path few choose to pursue, but those who do find it is the better way, and that there are many blessings associated with being faithful.
Jesus Gave Us Christian Values
Two thousand years ago, Jesus preached what is known as “the Sermon on the Mount.” This is the first of five great teachings (discourses) in the Gospel of Matthew. In this teaching, Jesus repeatedly says, “You have heard it said, but I say unto you…” Here, and throughout His earthly ministry, Jesus points to a different set of rules—a different set of values—a different matrix for success.
I submit that those who pursue and embrace the teachings of Jesus, though seemingly at odds with the wisdom of the world, will experience more peace and satisfaction in the here and now, and receive indescribable rewards in the age to come. Eleven guiding principles for living an extraordinary life follow:
Put God First
That’s right, this may sound strange, but the call is to make God the priority of your life—to put God and His will above your preferences and comfort. According to the world, we are to live to please self—we are encouraged to focus on me, myself, and I. But the rule-maker states that if you want to win in the great game of life, you must yield and play by His rules. In Matthew 22, Jesus is asked, “What is the greatest commandment?” That is, what is the paramount rule? Jesus replies by quoting from the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy, which was His way of saying, “Friends, what I’m about to say is not new; it has always been this way.” Truth is not subject to change. Jesus responds to the question by saying:
‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment.” ~ Matthew 22:37-38
When we give to the Lord, all our devotion, we receive from the Lord, all He desires to give.
In western culture, kindness may be appreciated but is not considered a virtue. Harvard Business School offers no classes on kindness; our military and business leaders are not encouraged to lead with kindness. The top employment search website, INDEED, presented an article on July 26, 2021, titled, 10 Traits of Highly Effective Leaders – kindness did not make that list. However, kindness did make Jesus’ top ten list. When asked what the greatest commandments were, Jesus replied:
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind…[and] ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’. ~ Matthew 22:37-39
The commandment to love others begins with being kind to others. The ability and desire to be kind to others is a mark of spiritual maturity and a stepping stone to achieving the higher things.
Being humble is the opposite of being prideful. From self-important movie stars and socialites to temperamental sports figures, western media spotlights and celebrates pride. Some correlate pride with self-confidence—this is incorrect. Self-confidence correlates with self-esteem, which is good; pride correlates with arrogance, ego, and narcissism, which are qualities that undermine God’s aspirations for you. Pursuing Christian values is the path that leads to blessing.
Scripture notes that Satan is prideful and that Jesus is humble. Christians are to be Christ-like and emulate the qualities He exemplifies. God, in His grace, couples this calling with a reward. Scripture (the Old and New Testaments) notes that God richly rewards the humble. When Jesus spoke of humility, he taught that we should elevate others above self—which is what Jesus did for humanity 2000 years ago when He died on a cross, for you and for me. In Matthew 20, Jesus challenged people to set aside the me-first mindset saying:
“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles domineer over them, and those in high position exercise authority over them. It is not this way among you, but whoever wants to become prominent among you shall be your servant, and whoever desires to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many. ~ Matthew 20:25-28
At the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry, He was falsely accused and put on trial. His enemies brought great resources to bear to try to trap and condemn the young teacher. For many months, His enemies watched His every move and scrutinized every deed. In the end, at His trial, His enemies paid witnesses to lie about Him, for they could not produce evidence that Jesus spoke any falsehoods. Jesus spoke truth—only the truth—to all who would listen and as loud as He could.
In today’s world, there is an expectation that our leaders will lie. It is not a surprise when reports confirm our government leaders, our military leaders, industry leaders, even leaders of medical governing agencies lie to the people they represent or serve. Jesus challenges people to be different, to be a light in the darkness, to speak truth. And He promises that if we prove ourselves faithful in small matters, He will entrust us with more. In Luke 16 we read:
“The one who is faithful in a very little thing is also faithful in much; and the one who is unrighteous in a very little thing is also unrighteous in much. Therefore, if you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous wealth, who will entrust the true wealth to you? And if you have not been faithful in the use of that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own?” ~ Luke 16:10-12
Show Yourself To Be Moral
Some suggest we now live in a post-Christian era, where truth is relative, and morals are subjective. In this world, terms such as tolerance and acceptance are valued and correlate with enlightenment, and the phrase, Christian values, is deemed outdated.
The ideas of subjective truth, elastic morality, and associating acceptance with enlightenment may seem new, but they are not. The first-century church, for example, fought a heresy called Gnosticism. This heresy, among other things, held that God is only concerned with our spirit, therefore, the flesh is permitted to indulge in all manner of carnal behavior. 1900 years ago, the Gnostics considered it a mark of enlightenment to, as some advocate today, accept all and advocate an “if it feels good, do it” mindset.
It is true Scripture that cautions people not to judge (Matthew 7:1), but God has presented His standards and expectations in Scripture and people are to, in truth and love, witness, share truth, and make judgments regarding right and wrong. Believers today are to know, embrace, and share Christian values.
Scripture clearly and repeatedly notes that believers are to pursue purity and the highest standards. The Lord commands, “be holy as I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16). When our hearts are pure and we are pursuing the best things, we can experience the best life. Jesus spoke of the things that can steal joy, focus, peace, and reputation, saying:
“…the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and those things defile the person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, acts of adultery, other immoral sexual acts, thefts, false testimonies, and slanderous statements.” ~ Matthew 15:18-19
Pursue the better way.
There is a strong correlation between people who extend great generosity and people who experience great happiness. This may seem like bad math—but those who give find that in the end, they have more—more joy, peace, satisfaction, positive relationships, and happiness in life. I believe generosity will yield an unimaginable reward at the judgment seat in heaven, but let me emphasize that generosity also yields a tremendous benefit in the here and now. Generosity is a powerful antidote to depression. Considering how and when to give fills the mind with positive thoughts, prompts positive behavior, and positions one to receive unexpected blessings. The Apostle Paul said it this way:
“In everything I showed you that by working hard in this way you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” ~ Acts 20:35
Live A Life Of Integrity
The challenge here is not simply speaking the truth, but living an honorable life. It is said that the wise and honorable “Walk the walk and not just talk the talk.” Saying the right things is easier than living the right way. But those who do both stand out in this world of mediocrity and hypocrisy. Not only are those with integrity honored by man, they are also honored by God. Requisites to integrity include:
- Surrounding yourself with good people
- Focusing on good things
- Doing good works
- Setting good goals
- Spending time in the Word
Your greatest asset in fulfilling the challenge to live a life of integrity is the abiding presence and anointing of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is called the Helper. God freely gives the Spirit to all who believe in Him and in Jesus, His Son. The Spirit supernaturally strengthens, equips, and enables people to overcome temptation and model good behavior. Jesus rebuked the religious leaders of His day for their ability to talk the talk but failure to walk the walk, saying:
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. So you too, outwardly appear righteous to people, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness” ~ Matthew 23:27-28
Forgiving is never easy, but the higher things, the better things, never are. Experiencing the best life requires your best effort, and this includes forgiving those who have wronged you. According to ancient Jewish custom, a Jew must forgive a Jew (but not a Gentile), and only if the person apologized and sought forgiveness, and only a maximum of three times. Jesus turned this teaching on its head by saying we must forgive all an infinite number of times, even if they do not apologize or seek forgiveness.
Forgiveness is like generosity in that embracing the challenge may appear to lead to a net loss, but actually, it produces short and long-term gains. Jesus’ counsel on this subject is clear. We are to model His example of forgiving others, and trust that our God of Justice will deal with injustice in the perfect way and at the perfect time. And know this: when we do what is right—when we forgive, we benefit. Many believe that when forgiveness is withheld, somehow the offender is punished. That may be true to some small extent, but the reality is, withholding forgiveness hurts the offended much more than the offender. Forgive, and YOU will be blessed. Jesus wants you to experience the fullness of His blessing so He counsels:
“Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned.” ~ Luke 6:37
The wise understand that Christian values are connected to a Christian’s mission, which is to honor God and share love and truth with others. Finding happiness and inner peace is linked to the effort we put into accomplishing our mission. This truism requires that we make every effort to maintain good relationships with people so that we can share love and truth with them.
Showing respect is key to effective communication. Even if our words and deeds are perfect, they will not be well received if we are not respectful in our interactions. Being respectful does not require you to respect one’s behavior, but it does require humility, tact, politeness, and friendliness. Think of yourself as a goodwill ambassador for God, for that is what He wants you to be (2 Corinthians 5:20). The Apostle Peter gives this counsel:
“Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.” ~ 1 Peter 2:17
Hope is the ‘X’ factor for living the “abundant life” Scripture references in John 10:10. Hope can be elusive—it is not something one can hold, see, or measure, yet when it is lacking, so is peace. The formula for peace and happiness may appear simple: Life + hope = peace and happiness. Unfortunately, there’s a caveat—one must place their hope in the right thing—something that is sure, unchanging, reliable; something that never fails; something that is all-powerful. The only thing—the only One who meets these requisites is God and His Son Jesus.
It is only when our hope is fixed on that which is good and sure, will we not be disappointed. The things of this world are fleeting—ever subject to change and failure. God invites humanity to place their trust and hope in something that will never fail, Him. Scripture notes that God is our hope and our salvation (Psalm 71:5-7). The hope that flows from a belief in God and being a devoted follower of Christ yields a “peace that surpasses understanding” (Philippians 4:7) and an indescribable eternal life in glory (1 Corinthians 2:9). The writer of the book of Hebrews counsels:
“Let’s hold firmly to the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful…” ~ Hebrews 10:23
Be A Peacemaker
The calling is not just to love peace, for that is but a simple matter—the calling is to be a peacemaker, to be the one who facilitates goodwill, forgiveness, and reconciliation. Everybody loves peace; the question is, are you a peacemaker? Pursuing love and facilitating peace is at the heart of Christian values.
The one who pursues peace does three things:
- They try their best to be at peace with others
- They prioritize being at peace with God though His Son, Jesus, and
- They share with the lost and hurting that Jesus is the Prince of Peace.
It is God’s desire that all experience His peace. His peace overwhelms pain and helps the weary overcome adversity. All can experience the wonderful peace of God when they are at peace with God. This happens when:
- We believe that Jesus is the Son of God and died on a cross to cleanse all from sin
- We confess our sins to Jesus and ask for forgiveness
- We acknowledge we need a Savior and want Jesus to be the Lord and Savior of our life
The Apostle Paul’s counsel is to:
“Let the peace of Christ, to which you were indeed called in one body, rule in your hearts; and be thankful” ~ Colossians 3:15
In the movie, The Matrix, the main character, Keanu Reeves, is introduced as a man who is neither fulfilled nor happy; he senses something is wrong with his reality. He comes in contact with a few brave souls who introduce him to the truth. The truth was difficult to accept—it was radically different than he imagined—it defied conventional teaching and wisdom. But a few insisted it was the superior reality, and deep down inside, he knew they were right. One day, though he knew there would be a cost and that there was no going back, he decided to embrace the truth and live by a different set of rules, priorities, and values. He found his life was difficult but better. He discovered he was more than he thought he could be. In the end, he shared in a victory he could not imagine at the beginning of his journey.
I am not suggesting that The Matrix is a spiritual movie, but I see some spiritual parallels. For example, the major systems of our world are fairly unified in defining what success looks like and how one achieves it. Big tech, the sports world, Hollywood, the media, and education systems link success with power, fame, money, looks, material possessions, influence, followers, titles, zip codes, and often, a particular mindset. From an early age, most are bombarded with commercials, testimonials, movies, news reports, songs, etc., that support the narrative: the more you have the happier you will be, you must put yourself first, and the end justifies the means.
Follow Jesus, Embrace Christian Values
I submit for your consideration, that there is a different, better way and reality. Christian values are very different from the norm. The world is both threatened by and hostile to them. The way may seem new but is, in fact, ancient. It only seems new because it has been set outside of mainstream culture for a very long time. What some call a radically new value system is in reality, a set of ancient biblical values. Old does not mean antiquated—it means tried and true. Many may equate best with newest, but it is better to equate best with truth. Christian values embody the truth.
Those who embrace Christian values and principles often do so at great cost, but report their lives are richer. They give more than they take and yet, in the end, have more—more of the things that are truly important. They are content to humbly serve, knowing there will come a time when God will exalt them. They will forgive because they have been forgiven; they will not strive to gain the adoration of fans but rather, will seek to be the friend of God. The new reality requires one to take the long view—to think about the eternal ramifications of our actions today. The moment may be difficult, but the rewards coming to the faithful will endure forever. Forever, how wonderful the thought.
Are you all in?
And so, in this world, where many are weary and miserable, the wise will throw themselves into this new reality. They will be ALL IN for Jesus. They will commit to grow in spiritual wisdom and work every day—in big and small ways. There will be missteps, and setbacks, and perhaps even utter failures. But when we walk with Christ and pursue His values, we live in grace. God is quick to forgive and quick to extend mercy. He does not require you to be perfect before He loves you; He already loves you.
This article affirms His desire to help you position to live the best life possible. Peter wrote of what this growing, new life in Christ looks like:
“Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.” ~ 2 Peter 1:5-7
I close this article by joining Peter in challenging you to commit to grow in the faith, to embrace Christian values, and to surround yourself with good teaching and good people. For in doing these great things, you will find great blessings.