30th May 2019

Values

“When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it wanders through waterless regions looking for a resting-place, but it finds none. Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ When it comes, it finds it empty, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and brings along seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and live there; and the last state of that person is worse than the first.”
Matthew 12:43-45 (NIV)

This enigmatic statement of Jesus seems to be critical of cleaning one’s house! Of course he was speaking metaphorically, and I know his audience was quick to recognise that he was using metaphorical language. Although he was addressing an issue of that time dealing with demon problems, there are other lessons we can learn from this passage.

For me these verses speak of the truth that nature abhors a vacuum, and the importance of our values. We all have values. They are a vitally important part of our character. Values are at the core of our being, and determine how we make our way in the world. Our values might include the desire to be a good citizen, a commitment to helping the needy; or sacrificing our short term needs for our children’s future. A desire to be important, or putting our needs ahead of others’ are also values. Good or bad, it is impossible to be without them.

There are two sources of our values. The first is environment. We absorb values (mostly unconsciously) from our parents, our culture, and our friends. The second source is a conscious decision to pursue something that inspires us. That might be a heroic story, or a teacher we admire. For some, it is a political ideology.

Going back to Jesus’ metaphor of the house, you could furnish your house with comfortable furniture, a warm stove, and beautiful pictures on the walls. That way it would be an attractive place to invite friends over and spend an enjoyable evening in conversation. Or you could leave it mostly empty with the doors unlocked. Be assured in that case someone else will put your house to use; maybe a ‘friend’ who is too lazy to get his own place, squatters, or the local drug dealer might use it to hide his contraband. Either way your house will be filled. Likewise, if you don’t carefully choose your own values, someone else will rush to supply some of their choosing, and those other values won’t be intended for your good!

The good news is we get to choose our values. As Homo Sapiens (approximately translated ‘the thinking species’) we needn’t make do with instinct – as animals do – or the values handed to us by our circumstances. We can select and cultivate a set of values to live our lives by. We have the power to be the author of our own story.

Given that nature abhors a vacuum, it is crucial that we pay close attention to our values. Especially, we should think about where we got them. That is not as simple as it may seem! If you ask someone why they believe in something, they might say, “It’s obvious” or “I thought it out for myself.” If we are really honest with ourselves, we will have to admit that we adopted some of our cherished assumptions without critically examining them. The story in Matthew 12 also hints that something as important as our values shouldn’t be left to random chance. The clean (empty) house didn’t remain empty for long. It filled up, and what filled it wasn’t good. Pay attention to what makes up your values.

Prayer
Father, I depend upon you for help in forming my values, and for the wisdom to apply them to everyday life.
Amen

Study by Joe Casey
_______________________________________________

About the Author:
Joseph Casey is an Elder in the Limerick Congregation of the Grace Communion International.

Local Congregation:
Grace Communion International, Limerick
Please phone for venue

Meeting time:
The first and third Saturday of each month at 1:30pm

Local Congregational Contact:
Joseph Casey
Phone: +353 872592983
Email: joecasey@shannontechnology.ie

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Print This Article

Comments

Got something to say?