Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise: Living Ethically in the Light of the Bible
Matthew 10:17-23; Acts 13:26-52; Psalm 26; Exodus 3-4
Speaking out about ethical issues can be difficult. We may fear that we will be rejected, ridiculed or suffer other consequences. We may worry that people will think poorly of us for bringing up old-fashioned, religious ideas of right and wrong. In Matthew 10:17-20, Jesus tells the apostles that things will not always go smoothly when they speak up. The disciples will be dragged before the authorities and beaten.
We may not have to worry about that, although whistleblowers have at times paid a very high price for speaking out. Our concerns may be more with what we should say and what people will think of us. Jesus addresses both of these concerns. He reminds the apostles that such situations are opportunities to witness to the authorities and others. When we speak up about our concerns for the vulnerable, about the dishonesty or injustice we see, about ways that people’s dignity can be upheld better, we testify about the concerns that God has for humanity. We may be nervous or frightened, but we are doing God’s work.
Jesus also reminded the apostles that the Holy Spirit would be with them speaking through them. When we are in a hostile setting, or unsure of how to respond, thoughts can come to our minds and words to our lips that address the situation wisely. The Holy Spirit helps during challenging situations, both when talking with friends or in public. These can be encouraging times when we know the Lord is using us, or opportunities lost. Even then, we are in good company. Moses in Exodus 4 did everything he could to get God to send anyone other than him. Just like us at times, he didn’t think anyone would listen; he didn’t think he spoke very well; he just didn’t want to go. God promised to help him and even got his brother Aaron to come alongside him. Jesus reminds us that God continues to be there with us, guiding us.
Psalm 26 brings up an important qualification. When people fail to listen to wise counsel, part of the problem may lie with the messenger. Does our walk add credibility to our talk, or detract from it? Sometimes our lives speak louder than our words, however wise they may be. Can we say, with the psalmist, that our lives have been blameless and that we continually walk in the Lord’s truth? I doubt it.
That is why we must ask the Lord to examine our hearts and our minds. Others may take bribes and concoct wicked schemes, but we should remember that we have sinned also. That should lead us back to the mercy and grace of the Lord, thus taking away any judgmentalism that may be lurking within us. Even when we stand on the level ground of truth, we must speak that truth in love.