A message for Sunday, June 13, 2021 for Akron Alliance Fellowship Church, Akron OH.
Over the past year, a number of companies, including the one I work for, have made modifications, if not outright changes to their company codes. These codes, which are also referred to as laws or policies, involve more than just an update of their employee manuals. These updates, where every employee must regularly review and pass annual multiple-choice tests, involve what is commonly referred to as the Code of Business Conduct and Ethics. Every large organization—especially those that are publicly traded on a stock exchange—has a business conduct and ethics code.
Now, to be clear, the annual reviews by employees of the company policies on ethics and conduct are time-consuming and, at times, mind-numbing. The video provided by Human Resources is required viewing, and it must be viewed in its entirety with quiz questions peppered throughout the presentation. Each video provides a number of scenarios that test you as to what an employee must do in order to commit to ethical behavior, honesty and integrity in the workplace.
What do these company codes mean to the employee and to the organization as a whole? It means that there are high standards for conduct and ethics that deserve attention and must be followed in order to uphold the standards and practices of the organization. These standards are important enough in areas of responsibility that they involve legal issues and in some areas, corporate and personal liability. An employee must commit to following these practices and has to sign documentation pledging to follow the code. If an employee doesn’t commit to follow the code or do these things in a proper manner, he or she can be terminated.
Now, this message is about following a code of conduct or ethics, and it is no coincidence that the Bible can also be referred to as the Believer’s Code of Conduct and Ethics. When you became a believer, it was when you recognized that Jesus was to be your personal Lord and Savior because of what is declared in Scripture, and it would have been shared to you by another person or persons with the presence of the Holy Spirit. Of course, your journey of learning more about Jesus Christ and growing in your relationship with Him comes from your ongoing study of the Bible. It cannot be emphasized enough that without the Bible and without the teaching of the Holy Spirit as to its meaning, your ability to learn about Jesus would be next to impossible. God teaches you about Himself through His Word.
All of us, at one point, were beginners as we started the journey of learning about Jesus Christ. In the same way that we strive to learn about new tasks or positions on the job, acquiring knowledge about God must always be our focus. Solomon proclaims this in the first verses of Proverbs under the title, “The Beginning of Knowledge.”
Proverbs 1:1-7 ESV
1 The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel:
2 To know wisdom and instruction,
to understand words of insight,
3 to receive instruction in wise dealing,
in righteousness, justice, and equity;
4 to give prudence to the simple,
knowledge and discretion to the youth—
5 Let the wise hear and increase in learning,
and the one who understands obtain guidance,
6 to understand a proverb and a saying,
the words of the wise and their riddles.
7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
fools despise wisdom and instruction.
It should be our mission to seek the Lord’s wisdom and knowledge for life.
With that in mind, it is interesting that a number of people see the Bible as a book of rules and regulations, and instead of embracing it for its holiness and godly standards, they decide to not read it or, just as worse, run away from its laws and rules. Defeat is a certainty for those who fail to see the significance of following God and adhering to His rules and laws in Scripture.
A number of people miss the point about the Bible. They will readily sign on to uphold their company’s policies of the new millennium and honor its standards and ethics, and yet dismiss the Bible as irrelevant and outdated:
“It was written for a bunch of old folks.”
“It’s not really for me because it was written a long time ago.”
“I don’t think God is speaking to me through these stories and fables.”
If your faith is lacking, this is what your comments will sound like. And yet, there’s a passage of Scripture that shows how relevant the Bible really is:
2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV
16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
When a believer concludes or even declares that the Bible is irrelevant, is it possible that there is a disconnect in his or her relationship with Jesus Christ?
Oh, you bet there is! What has happened to a believer who has taken a relationship with Jesus Christ and just cast it aside?
Perhaps this is a moment in time where one’s faith needs a rekindling. How important is faith?
Hebrews 11:1 ESV
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
Romans 10:17 ESV
So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
Faith, even the proverbial mustard seed size of it (Matthew 13:31-32, Mark 4:30-32), is the kindling that sparks a renewing of one’s relationship with Jesus Christ. Even the smallest measure of faith can provide big results.
Now, please give careful consideration to your own relationship with Jesus. Where does it stand right now? Rather than measuring or comparing the size of your faith with someone else, I suggest that you just start with you. In this case, your heart for Jesus matters much, much more.
Your ongoing prayers and study of God’s Word leads to greater knowledge and awareness of Jesus Christ and your relationship with Him. The more that you do this, the more that you will readily receive His wisdom and knowledge.
A friendly reminder to all believers: God teaches you about Himself through His Word. I’ll add to that by stating that He gives you the indwelling Holy Spirit as a Teacher and Tutor as you experience His Word for yourself.
Philippians 4:13 ESV
I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
Have you done your homework? By homework, I am referring to your personal study time with Jesus. Are you preparing yourself as you take life’s tests? If the Bible is not being read or studied with a high regard, you will struggle with life’s tests.
Joshua 1:8 ESV
This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.
I pray that this does not apply to you, but to experience a prolonged disconnect with Jesus Christ means that there is a lack of understanding as to God’s power and ability for your life. I’m listening to a number of messages from Pastor Gus and other pastors and preachers where some people just don’t seem to be very interested in hearing God’s Word. What exactly is happening here? It is a tragedy in the making for a number of people, and I’m not talking about non-believers here, although this certainly has application to them, but I’m specifically speaking here about believers. I’m taking the approach of James within his epistle to the Jewish Christians…
James 1:25 ESV
But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.
Here are pointed questions for you to consider: Are you relying on the power of the Holy Spirit that dwells within you?
Are you listening to Him at all?
If there is a disconnect on your end, or in cell phone terminology, a “bad connection,” here is what needs consideration: It doesn’t mean that God isn’t speaking to you…perhaps it means that you’re just not listening to Him.
Jesus ALWAYS has His line of communication open. He readily speaks, and He listens when you call upon Him.
Pastor Gus has said, on a number of occasions, that God has been very good to him. He has experienced blessing after blessing, and that “God has richly blessed my wife and I.” When you hear something like this, do you say, “Amen,” or do you say, “That’s nice,” or “Good for you”?
Where is your faith?
What is your purpose?
Does your connection with Jesus Christ need an upgrade?
If you take the time to learn to listen to God through the power of the Holy Spirit, He will be able to help you in your faith and help you to shape your purpose. This is the power of sanctification, His improvement, His upgrade within your relationship with Jesus Christ. He will always be available every time you sincerely seek after Him. He has the answers and solutions for all of your questions. Everything that you want in the relationship may not be revealed to you right away, but He will reveal to you what you need to move forward and step out in faith.
The Bible is not just for old folks. For those of you who consider yourself to be “young” men and women…yes, it’s for you, too. It’s the book of God’s standards and practices for every believer in Jesus Christ.
It’s the Believer’s Code of Conduct.
The Bible is a book that requires a commitment to live according to God’s will and purpose for your life. It’s His holy standard for each of us.
It’s our Code of Ethics.
Now, let’s understand the importance of what the Bible can do for you as you learn more about this faith. The Bible is indeed our Code of Conduct and Manual of Ethics. Here is what it reflects in the same way that many of us have agreed to follow in the very companies that we worked for in the past and now in the present:
1. Our commitment to equal opportunities for all.
As you learn about Jesus Christ and what it represents in all of your interpersonal relationships, a Scripture that should come to mind about God’s fairness and equity should come to mind:
Romans 2:6-13 ESV
6 He will render to each one according to his works: 7 to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; 8 but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. 9 There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, 10 but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. 11 For God shows no partiality.
12 For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.
Once again, these are the words that mirror the intent within James Chapter 1.
This passage is a reminder to everyone that you need to make sure that your communication with Jesus Christ is at an optimal level. He plays no favorites.
If you want to represent fairness and equity in today’s world—treat other people the way that you want to be treated.
Love God and love others, as well. Love always carries the day. Jesus reminds us through His Word the example we are to set before others:
Matthew 22:36-40 ESV
36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
When speaking of diversity and inclusion, Scripture takes us right back to the place where we are to love everyone and to avoid condemnation of any kind due to one’s differences. That’s exactly what Jesus did for us.
John 3:16-17 ESV
16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
Live according to His example wherever you go from here on.
2. A pledge to live in safety, avoid conflict and live in an orderly manner.
Proverbs 18:10 ESV
The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.
Isaiah 41:10 ESV
Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
As far as not stirring up conflict:
James 1:19-20 ESV
19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
As far as orderly living:
Philippians 2:2-4 ESV
2 Complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
1 Peter 3:8-9 ESV
8 Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. 9 Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.
Jesus is our safe place that is readily available to everyone—believer or non-believer. He is where we can go and not face judgment or ridicule (remember what He says about Himself in John 3:17). He is our strength in that we do not to engage those who oppose the gospel, but rather love our enemies, agree to disagree with them, and live in peace. This is how we make the difference in a world of conflict. Be ready to forgive others. We must live in peace with everyone.
Romans 12:18 ESV
If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
3. Our commitment to live in honesty and to stand against unethical or illegal behavior.
What you will see here is that love is the dominant factor as we live a life of honesty as we resist doing what is wrong.
1 Corinthians 6:9-11 ESV
9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
Now, I share this passage because I want everyone to understand that while there are people that we live and work with every day that practice these behaviors, we are to recognize that (a) our response is to still love these people, and (b) serve the Lord Jesus Christ as a faithful representative of the gospel. We are called to stand on the truth and let the Lord handle His business within our ministry for others. There is no conflict of interest in pursuing diversity and inclusion for all people, because Jesus teaches us to love everyone. Always remember what it says in Romans 12:9-13:
Romans 12:9-13 ESV
9 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
If you do this, you can minister for Jesus anywhere and everywhere. Amen and amen!
As far as behavior is concerned, we already know the difference between right and wrong. Companies have to list what is proper and improper to make it easier to identify these rights and wrongs. The Bible has done the same thing. In addition to the many references throughout the Old Testament as Moses was communicating these behaviors to the people of Israel, you’ll find that all of these behaviors are under the umbrella of the Ten Commandments, but look at what it says in Romans as it summarizes all of this:
Romans 13:8-10 ESV
8 Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
You can’t love God and sin at the same time.
Your guide to living in honesty involves obedience to God’s Word and putting love at the forefront of everything that you do.
I trust that you can see how a number of company codes and standards have an actual connection to Biblical standards. As we live in a world that embraces fleshliness over godliness, let us continue to pursue this godliness by living in completeness before our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Our guide is the believer’s true code of conduct: The living Word of Jesus Christ.
Remain prayerful each day as you take in His Word and live before others. There’s no greater calling than to be a follower and representative of Jesus Christ.
Copyright © 2021 Melvin Gaines.