Daily D – Exodus 23:2-3
Exodus 23:2, 3 “You must not follow the crowd in doing wrong. When you are called to testify in a dispute, do not be swayed by the crowd to twist justice. And do not slant your testimony in favor of a person just because that person is poor.” (NLT)
Sometimes you have to oppose a crowd. Sometimes you have to overcome your bias to do what is right, just, fair, and compassionate. Sometimes doing the right thing is hard. Do it anyway.
God-shaped values are those hooks we hang our hats on that help us make decisions. Most people share a dozen or so values. There are typically a handful of values that drive us. Have you identified yours? How do you state them?
Consider a simple test. If I offered you a check for one million dollars, and if that check was legitimate, what would you do with it?
- Some people would spend it.
- Some people would save it.
- Some people would invest it.
- Some people would give it away.
What you would do with a million dollars is based on your most deeply-held values, your core values.
A church website I checked out yesterday declared the church’s vision, mission, and goal. Their vision does not meet the definition of the word. Their mission statement is generic. Their goal is imprecise. They also have eight “core” values. These values are not really values. Instead, they are points of theology restated from their very long belief statement.
Noting these things is not picking on the church or its leadership. These are simply observations from someone (me) who has studied these things deeply for decades. A lack of clarity about how we define ourselves muddies the water for those who long for a refreshing drink of the good news.
Eight core values are too many. Eight are not really core. Four to six is a more honest number.
Also, if we say we have certain core values, they should be easy for others to identify in our ordinary lives.
Values not shaped and refined by the heart of God tend to become biases. We favor some people, places, and things. We hold other people, places, and things at more distance. For example, consider MSNBC and NewsMax. Where do their biases lie? Also, consider the Dallas Cowboys and the Washington team formerly known as the Redskins.
The fact that I used the name the Washington team used to be known as brings up another bias, doesn’t it?
There is a point to this exercise. How are you allowing God to reshape and refine your core values? How are you allowing him to shift you from bias to compassion?
The Gospel reshapes our lives. It refines every aspect of our lives. If we are unwilling to allow God entry into our political preferences and ideas of what is right, just, fair, and compassionate, we are installing our values as higher than God’s. Needless to say, that is dangerous ground.
Today is a good day to reconsider our individual core values. Does God have free access to reshape and refine our filters for daily living?
I will allow our Father in heaven to reshape and refine my values to align completely with his.
Our Father, reshape me. Refine me. Place your thoughts in my mind, your compassion in my heart, and your tools of grace and peace in my hands. Amen.
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Jonah 4:2, 3 So he complained to the Lord about it: “Didn’t I say before I left home that you would do this, Lord? That is why I ran away to Tarshish! I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. You are eager to turn back from destroying people. Just kill me now, Lord! I’d rather be dead than alive if what I predicted will not happen.”
Joel 2:12, 13 That is why the Lord says, “Turn to me now, while there is time. Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead.” Return to the Lord your God, for he is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He is eager to relent and not punish.”
Hosea 14:8, 9 “O Israel, stay away from idols! I am the one who answers your prayers and cares for you. I am like a tree that is always green; all your fruit comes from me.” Let those who are wise understand these things. Let those with discernment listen carefully. The paths of the Lord are true and right, and righteous people live by walking in them. But in those paths sinners stumble and fall.”