We may stretch certain muscle groups, and that may help. But we cannot change the limit that our skeletal structure has internally determined for us. We can do very little to alter it. It is simply who we are, it’s the core of our being.
So it is with ethics. Ethics set the internal limits of our conduct. They set the boundaries to our bending. They are the dictator of our decisions. And they decide just how far we can go.
Ethics are the set of moral principles by which one lives. The dictionary defines ethics as “the study and philosophy of human conduct, with emphasis on the determinations of right or wrong.” What do you think is right? What do you think is wrong? What are your convictions in dealing with people, money, confidences, and other key components of life? Ethics decide exactly how far one will and will not bend. They shape one's reputation, become one's testimony and determine one's success and influence.
In Scripture we read of a man named Zacchaeus whose backbone was very, very flexible. His system of ethics composed of loosely connected and fragmented principles, his double-jointed character, allowed him to bend whichever way he wanted with out the pain or inconvenience of restriction.
We read in Luke 19 of his flimsy values in dealing with the people of Jericho. He lied, cheated, stole and mistreated heaven knows how many of his poor, fellow countrymen. Yet with out a twinge of pain he thrived in this mode of flexibility, uninhibited by the regulations of stricter morals. He swayed in the wind, which ever way seemed to promise him more profit. Free from the bounds of tighter, inelastic convictions, he could do just about whatever he pleased.
But one day he found Jesus. Jesus transforms humanity. He changes us, and makes all things new. He creates again, fresh and healthy. He restores. Even down to the very structure of our being, the core, the bones that make up the interior foundation of our actions.
Zacchaeus was not reorganized, remodeled or reshaped. He was not rearranged or redone or revived. He was redeemed, reborn, and revolutionized. He was rebuilt from the ground up. He was renewed from the inside out. He was recreated, down to the very core of his being. Life and health and togetherness overtook his morals and principles and code of ethics. His way of life, values and all his dealings were totally restructured.
Immediately, Zacchaeus’ ethics were completely transfigured. Soon his ways were totally launched into effectiveness and efficiency. He began to operate in a whole new realm of productivity. He moved in a God-ordained way. He soon found himself incapable of bending in inhumane measures for the sake of gain. Where once flexible morals permitted the contortion of principles, now strong convictions propelled him into a realm of nobility and trustworthiness that opened more doors than he could walk through.
Zacchaeus had new bones. New joints. New ethics. The words of Jesus changed the foundation of his being, his existence. The book of Hebrews tells us that the Word of God discerns and pierces through the joints and marrow of our soul. It deciphers and distinguishes the unhealthy lack of restraint and instills vital and appropriate parameters for more effective movement. Those parameters are ethics.
As in the story of Zacchaeus, we see that those ethics, those bones, must be (more wonderfully: CAN BE!) transformed by the power of Jesus. Our entire system of ethics can be reconstructed into the code and limits prescribed by God. Every believer must be willing to let the old ethics die, and become new in all things, even new bones.