Morals and Values…..do we even put much stock in these terms ‘nowadays’? I wonder if you asked a
young person today for a list of their personal values would they know what you meant let alone have
an answer? I don’t mean to pick on young’uns because I think it is actually a good question for all of us
to ponder. Values in this context can be generally understood as the basic beliefs that are important to
us and that guide or motivate our attitudes and actions. It’s an inner ethos of qualities we want to be
known for and that provides overall guidance for how we conduct ourselves in the world around us. They
are the “standards” by which we choose to live. They are what define our character.
Some examples of values would be; to love one another, honesty, kindness, compassion, respect, and
personal responsibility just to name a few. I’m sure with a little more thought you can come up with
some of your own as well. In the “olden” days when I was growing up the values, I listed were
understood and expected behavior by everyone. You were expected to tell the truth and if you got
caught lying there was a price to pay for the deceit. Kindness and compassion were on display often.
People offered help to one another. It was not uncommon for neighbors to help each other out or for a
man or woman to offer their seat to an “older” person or a pregnant woman on the train or bus. You
might even let the person with only a few items go ahead of you at the check outline. Folks held the
door for each other when entering or exiting buildings and said thank you. In fact, please and thank you
were a regular part of the vernacular – expected. There was respect for our elders and those in positions
of authority. Children had “chores” they were responsible for as a part of being a member of a family.
These values taught us how to behave within our families and ultimately within society.
Most families including mine went to church back then and we were taught the 10 commandments
early on. However, you did not need to be a person of faith all those years ago to have evidence of these
values on display all around you. They had been on display for thousands of years, it’s just how it was.
Somehow over the years, we started to lose our way. I’m thinking it started with the ME generation of
the ’70s. At that time, it was all about freedom, and the young folk’s mantra was “sex, love, and rock
and roll man!” Teenagers chafed at the rules of their parents, they thought they were too old fashioned
and out of touch. Every generation thinks they are smarter than the one that came before but are they
really? My husband and I raised two sons who are both doing well and who we are proud of and
recently we were blessed with a granddaughter, so I have got some years and some perspective on me
I was not a fan of the doctrine of the faith I grew up in, so I chose not to raise my children in the
church. Honestly, I did not know anything about any other church ideology, and I thought they were all
the same. I regret now that I did not investigate other options so that we could have given them a faith
foundation. What we did instill in them though were the values we grew up with and I have come to
understand had their underpinning in faith and the teachings of Jesus and the Bible. These were
understood principles that we tried to live up to in our home and were instilled in generations past. I
think there are a lot of people like me who turned away from the traditions, rituals, dogma, and fear
that many churches had fostered because we felt that although we may have made some mistakes – we
didn’t think we were “bad” people. Over time that distance has grown and sadly many children now
have parents that did not have the benefit of these foundational, overarching values that the church and
society espoused years ago.
When you do not have values to strive for or live up to you can fall prey to any ideology that comes
along. I cannot tell you how many times I leave a store and hold the door for someone entering and they
walk right past me and say nothing, no thank you, no nod, no smile – zero acknowledgment of the
kindness I have extended them. If someone does thank me, it is usually someone older than me!
Recently we were visiting our son and his family. They live on the outskirts of a very large city. We were
standing in the crosswalk of his very nice, suburban neighborhood, 4 adults with a baby in a stroller.
Several cars drove by and not one stopped to let us go. We had to wait until there was no traffic to
cross. Can you guess where all the cars were coming from? Church, yes, a Christian church was getting
out 2 blocks up the street. All those people had just come from church and they could not even keep
their “kindness, compassion and respect” lessons of Jesus teachings for the 5 minutes it took for them to
get to the crosswalk. What good is attending church if the values of Jesus do not follow out into the real
world? That is the problem…there is a disconnect. This was a microcosm example of the greater
problems of the world today.
There doesn’t seem to be much will or interest anymore in working towards these overarching
standards that people once tried to live up to – the values that were understood and expected. The
teachings of Jesus were the foundational principles that set the example. We need to return to
those values that were foundational to our existence. We need to talk with our children and
grandchildren about why morals and values are fundamentally important and to have high expectations
that they will strive to live up to them and we need to set a good example of how to do it. Otherwise,
we will continue to fall further into the darkness where everyone makes up their own rules and values
according to their own base desires. Jesus followers know better. It doesn’t make it easier it just points
to a set of values that we can use as a guide for how to treat others. Maybe if we did a better job of
practicing the values that Jesus taught it would rub off on all those around us? After all, Jesus’ final
commandment to his disciples prior to His crucifixion – the one he wanted them to remember –
was to love as I have loved you.
John 13:34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, so
love you one another.
If we can only look at and treat others the way John explains the world would be a much brighter place.
John 4:12 No one has ever seen God, but if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is made
complete in us.
Shouldn’t we be striving to follow Jesus’ lead?