Morality and the
The Gospels are the
cornerstone of the Christian faith. Yet some people tend to read the
Gospels more like a story and less like a guide for living our
lives. Christian morality can be difficult to define since there are
so many sources by which we can be guided. But the Gospels should be
foremost in our minds when we attempt to define what morality means
What do the Gospels teach us about morality? Fortunately for us, we
do not have to look very far to find this answer. One of the
clearest injunctions that Jesus gives us can be read in Matthew
chapter 9, verse 13, in which he says he desires “mercy and not
sacrifice.” His teachings can be boiled down to the first two of the
Ten Commandments, which implore us to love God with all of our
hearts, minds, and strengths, and our neighbors as ourselves.
Matthew tells us this in chapter 22.
It’s important to remember that Gospel morality is distinct from
pre-Christian morality, with its rather complicated commandment
structure. The Old Testament Law is written in excruciatingly minute
detail and discusses everything from how to conduct liturgy to which
foods to eat. Jesus, as the fulfillment of this Old Testament Law,
proclaimed that every action we take needs to be done out of love
for God or love for our neighbor (which, by extension, is also done
out of love for God). After Jesus’ arrival, death, and resurrection,
morality became about more than just following a direct line to
hundreds of rules.
Gospel morality is also distinct from post-modern morality, this new
way of thinking in which we cast off the hierarchies of yesteryear.
This kind of morality has all kinds of confusing situational
injunctions for us to do what is best for ourselves, even if we
don’t know what that is, or what feels good, even if it will end up
seriously hurting someone. Gospel morality can offer us a way out of
the confusion and doubt that can be borne of adhering to this
capricious and self-serving mindset.
Because many people struggle with morality, we believe that it must
be complicated. Other forms of morality to which we have been
exposed are complicated and confusing, like pre-Christian Old
Testament morality and post-modern morality. But the Gospels don’t
make morality complicated. Morality according to the Gospels is
simple. But it’s important to remember that “simple” is not the same
It is not easy to live as the Gospels have taught us. Rather than
seek a short term insurance answer we should expect to struggle with
this task, because we inevitably will. It can be difficult for us to
be peaceful when we have the urge to lash out at someone who has
hurt us. But as Christians we should remember what Jesus has in
store for us when we follow His commands. Remember that He tells us
to “rejoice and be glad”, no matter what kind of hurt or injury
befalls us, for when we follow morality as dictated in the Gospels,
our reward will be great indeed.
Copyright Bethshan Ministry 2009