Code of Conduct Determines the Outcome

Code of Conduct Determines the Outcome

In every aspect of life, we encounter a code of conduct. Our greatest satisfaction and highest achievement exist within those guidelines. Ignore them and life becomes increasingly uncomfortable.

I’ve spent my fair share of watching and coaching little league sports. Initially, the equipment used and the playing field dimensions are the strongest indications of what sport is involved. The more rules become understood and applied, the more exciting the game also becomes.

Many say, “Rules are meant to be broken!” Broken rules lead to penalties of one kind or another, adversely affecting the individual’s performance and the entire team’s outcome.

What holds true in sports certainly holds true in our daily lives.

“Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel.”
Philippians 1:27

Why do we value rules and codes of behavior in sports and the workplace, but so easily reject them as Christians? The longest chapter in the Bible, Psalm 119, amplifies the importance of God’s code of conduct.

Wisdom and Insight

“Oh how I love your law!
I meditate on it all day long.
Your commands are always with me
and make me wiser than my enemies.
I have more insight than all my teachers,
for I meditate on your statutes.
I have more understanding than the elders,
for I obey your precepts.
I have kept my feet from every evil path
so that I might obey your word.
I have not departed from your laws,
for you yourself have taught me.
How sweet are your words to my taste,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!
I gain understanding from your precepts;
therefore I hate every wrong path.”

Psalm 119:97-104

The wisdom and insight we wish to possess comes from understanding and following God’s commands and rules. Just as a game of sports quickly becomes chaos and confusion when rules are thrown to the wind, so our lives reflect the same.

Full Potential

Whether a team sport or an individual endeavor, we only reach our full potential by adhering to a code of conduct. The scriptural term sanctification primarily means “holiness, to sanctify, or make holy.” But another meaning is “the state of proper functioning.”

To sanctify someone or something is to set that person or thing apart for the use intended by its designer. Through Christ’s atonement, we are set apart unto service for God A pen is “sanctified” when used to write. Eyeglasses are “sanctified” when used to improve sight. In the theological sense, things are sanctified when they are used for the purpose God intends. A person is sanctified, therefore, when he or she lives according to God’s design and purpose 1.

God ultimately designed within each of us a unique and fulfilling purpose. The only avenue to achieve His full purposes for us comes through adhering to His code of conduct.

I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification.
Romans 6:19

Throw away the code of conduct and our world, including us, becomes a free-for-all! Learn from God’s perfect laws and everyone thrives. One leads to “lawlessness” the other to “sanctification” — the fulfilling of God’s intended purposes for our lives.

Grace

But alas! Rules are difficult, even impossible, to consistently follow.

So by God’s great grace, He gave us Jesus Christ. By living in and through Him, He enables us to overcome the draw of lawlessness and walk in the freedom of becoming. Freedom comes as we are motivated by love, respect, and grace. These three form the true motivation behind God’s code of conduct.

He desires everyone to reach their full potential and intended use. So, He gave us the freedom and the power through the Holy Spirit to go that direction.

Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness.
Romans 6:13

The word “offer” signifies a once-and-for-all surrender of ourselves to God, like a gift of gratitude.

Practical Steps

We recognize following God’s code of conduct cannot be done in and of ourselves. But as we surrender, first in our hearts and minds, once-and-for-all to Him, we begin the process. Then, we learn to daily walk it out.

Here is how:

  • Read the Bible to discover who God is and His design for us.
  • Pray. Prayer, honest communication with God, forms the bedrock of our relationship with Him.
  • Repent of attitudes and actions misaligned with His code of conduct.
  • Consecrate ourselves, committing everything to Him — our hands for His service, our hearts for His molding, our minds to His instruction, our feet to His direction, our motives to His desires.
  • Dedicate. We also choose to dedicate all we are (or ever will be), and all we possess to His service. We are nothing and receive nothing apart from Him. Each day, we have the privilege of committing it all back to Him.

“But now, O LORD, You are our Father,
We are the clay, and You our potter;
And all of us are the work of Your hand.”

Isaiah 64:8

Prayer

Lord, teach me Your ways — Your code of conduct. Instruct me and show me how to reach the full potential You have designed for my life. I confess that I have attempted to live by self-made rules. Thank You for redirecting me back to You. Holy Spirit fill me with the power and desire to walk according to God’s ways. Because life is not a game to be casually played, I recommit myself to You, Lord. May I experience the joy and freedom of living a life set apart for You, fulfilling You purpose and calling. Amen.

1. Walter A. Elwell, Ed., Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology, Entry for Sanctification, (Grand Rapids, Baker Book House Company, 1996)

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5 Keys to Improve Judgment

5 Keys to Improve Judgment

Today, I offer concrete strategies to improve judgment, helping us make solid decisions in virtually every area of our lives. To be honest, I acknowledge that I’ve been working to improve this area as well.

A few weeks ago (on one of those frigid, windy, -30-degree days), I purchased a “small” palm plant. Our future held no possibility of sunny vacations to sandy beaches with warm lazy days in the sun. So, I bought a little something green to bring home. Only it wasn’t so little! I didn’t realize just how large my “small” purchase was until I brought it into our cozy condo, thereby exposing my error in judgment. When I showed my daughter-in-law, she laughed and said, “That is HUGE!”

A few years ago, another daughter-in-law and I checked pasture fences. As we walked along, we heard rustling in the tall grass. I whispered, “Ah! A bunny!” I gently pulled the grass aside to see a skunk inches away from my feet. Cautiously, I backed away. After running for our lives, we laughed hysterically at my gross error in judgment.

I recently decided my daughters-in-law will not be allowed to contribute to my obituary after I die. Otherwise, everyone would need handfuls of tissues to hold back tears of laughter from the stories they could tell.

Seriously though, we would all be wise to develop our ability in making sound judgments.

#1 Seek Wisdom

This morning, I was reading in Proverbs 9. Both “wisdom” and “folly” hold similar positions on the “highest point of the city.” Both call to those passing by to “turn aside” to their direction. The resulting outcomes stood in direct contrast.

“For through wisdom your days will be many, and years will be added to your life. If you are wise, your wisdom will reward you …”
Proverbs 9:11-12

True wisdom begins with God and leads to understanding.

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”
Proverbs 9:10

However, the choice of “folly” leads to multiple layers of death.

The first key to improve judgment begins by rooting and grounding ourselves in the ways of God. Out of His surpassing wisdom flows sound judgment.

#2 Honest Self-Evaluation

After first seeking wisdom from God, we must honestly evaluate ourselves. Any hidden motives or agendas, sources of envy or jealousy, and areas of pride or arrogance will warp and hinder judgment. To develop the necessary skills to improve judgment demands a deeper, honest approach.

“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.”
Romans 12:3

Sheltered in the grace and goodness of our Loving Heavenly Father, He liberates us to evaluate ourselves honestly without condemnation or comparison. Personal insecurities evaporate in His unfailing love.

With an accurate concept of God, seeking His wisdom, and a realistic view of ourselves, God frees us to make solid judgments about people and things.

#3 Consecration

The preceding verses in Romans also carry gems for us. The first is the consecration of ourselves to God and His ways.

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God — this is your true and proper worship.”
Romans 12:1

What does this have to do with judgment? Everything!

As we continually recognize God’s mercy toward us, every judgment becomes grounded on His mercy! Through consecration, we offer every aspect of ourselves to Him — our hearts, minds, tongues, hands, feet …

How radically different judgments and decisions become when we lay every area on the altar of complete consecration to God! At the place of consecration, we view people and things in a much different light.

#4 Transformation and Renewal

God resists instantly transforming us, eradicating old patterns of thinking and conditioned behavior. Rather, He enters a partnership of transformation and renewal with each of us. As we surrender and commit ourselves to Him in ever deepening circles of faith and trust, He works with us and through us to bring radical change. Old patterns evaporate. New patterns form.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Romans 12:2

Rather than a suggestion, He straight up commands us to unite with Him in the process — however messy it might be.

Hidden in this passage we find the key. In the transformation and renewal, God improves our judgment to discover “his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Isn’t that what we desire for ourselves and others?

#5 Improve Judgment

My humorous illustrations demonstrate lack of judgment. Unfortunately, all situations I stumble through aren’t funny. But honestly, to improve judgment we need an ability to take God a lot more seriously and ourselves much more lightly.

When we hit the high mark, rejoice! When we miss it, move on! But either way, let’s keep seeking God for the insight we need. After acknowledging and confessing our failures, let’s give ourselves the grace and space to learn from mistakes and step back on track.

Don’t allow the enemy to taunt, “What were you thinking? Were you thinking?”

Rather,

“Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the LORD.”
Lamentations 3:40

God is so much bigger than any past failures. He comes beside us, guiding us into better living, mastering how to make solid judgments. So let’s develop a resilience that allows us to laugh a little more often as we seek His wisdom, evaluate ourselves honestly, consecrate ourselves completely, and co-partner with Him to bring transformation and renewal.

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