Beliefs and Practices of Christians - WHAT ARE THE ETHICAL TEACHINGS OF CHRISTIANITY?
In the Old Testament we find many laws which God gave to His people Israel. In the "Ten Commandments" which are found in Exodus, chapter 20, God commanded us to honor our parents, and forbade murder, adultery, stealing, lying, and coveting what belongs to another. He also gave many other moral laws, one of which was, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." (Leviticus 19:18). Jesus did not change any of these God-given laws, but He perfected them by explaining there real purpose.
For example, Jesus said that if anyone looks lustfully at a woman, not his wife, he is guilty of adultery. Thus, while the old commandments condemned the evil act, Jesus condemned the evil in the heart. He commanded truthfulness in speech, and forbade swearing, saying that one's every word should be as true as an oath. He told His followers that not only must they love one another but also their enemies, and must pray for those who persecute them. He forbade drunkenness and every form of immorality. And He said that God's children must be perfect as their Father in heaven is perfect. No standard could be higher than that.
Jesus also gave a rule of conduct which is applicable in all lands and in all ages, namely: "Whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them; for this is the law and the prophets." (Matthew 7:12). Because of its great value this has often been called the "Golden Rule". This perfect and complete principle does not merely forbid doing wrong to others, rather it encourages doing all the good to others that we would like them to do to us. It is noteworthy that the Injil does not have detailed regulations about food and dress and other matters that would have to be changed as the centuries pass. Rather, its principles are applicable to any situation and are therefore abiding.
All of the teachings of Jesus can be summed up in the one word "love." The love of Jesus Christ was perfect love, and He commanded His disciples to love one another as He loved them. We Christians well know that we do not have this Christlike love in ourselves, but when we remember how Christ loved us and died for us, we in turn will love others. The Spirit of Christ is the Spirit of love, and when Christ puts His Spirit in us we are able to love all men, even our enemies, just as He did. This love is not merely to be in our hearts, but must be expressed in deeds. The Apostle John say that if one has the means to help his poor brother and fails to do so, God's love is not in him.
A most beautiful description of love was written by the Apostle Paul, a part of which I quote: "If I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have….but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends…..So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love." (1Corinthians, Chapter 13).
The love of Christ for people was expressed not only by words, but by healing the sick and feeding the hungry and giving His life on the cross to save sinners. It is this love which gives Christians the desire to establish hospitals for the healing of the sick, homes for orphans, schools for children, and other agencies to serve people of all races and religions. Jesus wanted love to be the distinctive mark of His followers. We must confess with shame that your love is often veryimperfect, but all true Christians desire to love others as our Master did.
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