The Bible sets forth many specific positive commands by which the Christian is to be directed. Additionally, explicit negatives are provided as well. Here is an example of where both types of obligations are postured within the same narrative. In his letter to the church at Ephesus, Paul enjoined:
“Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labor, working with his hands the thing that is good, that he may have whereof to give to him who has need” (Eph. 4:28).
First, there is a prohibition — for the benefit of those who may have been thieves. “Do not steal any more.” Second, there is a benevolent replacement for such immoral conduct. “Work, and help those who are needy.” Commands of this nature are necessary — particularly in the more elementary stages of Christian growth.
In addition to commands, however, the Scriptures abound with principles — healthy, ethical maxims that challenge the child of God to assume a more mature level of responsibility. In this brief article, we want to deal with some “common sense” principles of human conduct that every Christian should consider most seriously.
Keep Your Word
It once was the case that a man lived by his word. The saying was, “A man’s word is his bond.” Many a bargain was struck with but a handshake (cf. 2 Chron. 30:8 ASVfn). Practice keeping your promises. Be a dependable person. If you tell someone that you are going to do it, then do it. If for some unavoidable reason the pledge simply cannot be fulfilled, then explain the situation. Do not leave others wondering and doubting your integrity.
Be On Time
Here is another aspect of keeping your word. If you promise someone that you will be somewhere at a certain time, be there. There are those who are perpetually late wherever they go, and it bothers them not at all. There are some by whom you could set your watch; they are consistently late for work, church services, meetings, etc., by fifteen or twenty minutes. If one can be consistent in his pattern of “lateness,” he could be habituated to being on time. Constant lateness is the result of a lack of self-discipline, and it detracts from one’s credibility.
Do It Right
There are two kinds of people. Those who take on a job and are anxious to get it over with as quickly as possible. As this writer’s mother was want to say, “they give it a lick and a promise.” These people are not burdened with a sensitivity relative to the quality of their work. On the other hand, there are those who take great pride in their labor. They render premium service, “as unto the Lord” (Eph. 6:7).
In an ancient world dominated by servitude, Paul instructed Christian slaves to serve their masters with “singleness of your heart” (i.e., genuinely, with absolute sincerity), and not in the way of eye service (i.e., only when the “boss” is watching) (see Eph. 6:5-6; Col. 3:22-25). Christian folks provide top-notch service. They do not take unauthorized “breaks;” they do not leave the job early and ask someone to “clock out” for them, they do not pilfer supplies from the office, and they do not take work funds and use them for personal enterprises.
Why is it that when you think of some people, the first word that comes to mind is “grumpy”? Every person has an “impressional” reputation. This is the impact they leave as they come in contact with others. Some have a delightfully sunny disposition that cannot be concealed. Even when they’re having a not-so-good day, their cheerfulness cannot but be apparent. Others never meet a gripe they don’t enjoy. They are sullen and a pain to be around. This is not the Christian countenance. Read Paul’s “joyful” epistle to the church at Philippi, remembering that it was written while he was chained to a Roman soldier in the imperial city (Phil. 1:13; cf. Eph. 6:20). Be encouraged to have a more radiant demeanor.
Say “Thank you”
Two of the most forgotten words of the English language are “Thank you.” Why do so many people take for granted that whenever a kindness is done on their behalf it somehow was “owed” anyway. Ingratitude is a horrible sin. Christ thrust thanklessness into the spotlight when, after he had healed ten lepers, and only one returned to express gratitude, he asked: “Where are the nine?” (Lk. 17:17).
Numerous other “common sense” principles might be discussed that ought to be woven into the fabric of every Christian’s life. Each child of God should attempt to be the very best person that he can be, letting his influence be a sweet fragrance amongst his peers.