Daily Encouragement: Year 1, Day 59

Adapted from Handbook to Leadership

Personal Development: Values

Isaiah 1:10–13

This startling statement in Isaiah reveals a crucial principle about values. Israel (here figuratively called Sodom and Gomorrah) was doing all the right things, but God called their acts detestable. These people were trying to buy God off with good deeds, but God wasn’t buying.

Right acts done for wrong reasons are detestable to both God and people. When helping children develop moral reasoning, we probe their values with the simple question, “Why?” Every moral decision consists of two parts, the content and the structure. Content is the actual decision—“Would you steal?” “No!” But the equally important structure question still needs to be asked, the one that taps into underlying values. For instance, we could ask the same child, “Why wouldn’t you steal?” If he or she answers, “Because I would be punished if I got caught,” most parents would quickly be dissatisfied with the original answer. The second answer indicates that the child values “not being punished” over being honest. Structure defines values; values shape how the child thinks about stealing.

God told Israel that their practice of religion solely to gain a more pleasant or profitable life wasn’t enough to please Him. A morality that can be sold to the highest bidder in this way is driven by inadequate values.

Leave a Reply