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Honesty, Respect, Grace & Love

(Matt. 5:33-48)

Honesty - Being straightforward, sincere, truthful, free of fraud, deception or misrepresentation.

Transparency - To be open, honest and available, to provide clear, accurate, and understandable
information (e.g. in the context of financial disclosures). Some ethicists have argued that ethical business
practices are best measured by a company's character and commitment to transparency than by their
social vision or rhetoric (e.g. Jon Entine)

– Builds/Maintains Trust
– Fosters Community
– Makes Communication more Efficient & Effective
– Demonstrates Respect for the Dignity of Others

Richard Sears, founder of Sears Roebuck and Co., started the modern mail order industry, supplying a
burgeoning nation with innovative products and building a business that gave employment to hundreds of
thousands of people. In his zeal to sell merchandise, Sears occasionally would get carried away with
catalogue descriptions, praising products far beyond the literal truth. This in turn led to returned
merchandise and reduced profits. But Sears learned his lesson. In later years, he was fond of saying,
"Honesty is the best policy. I know because I've tried it both ways.” - Integrity at Work, ed. Ken Shelton.

• “Honesty and transparency make you vulnerable. Be honest and transparent anyway.” - Mother

• Contra: "Speech was given to man to disguise his thoughts." - Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand

• Some scriptural references regarding honesty in business:

– (Ex. 22:10; 23:1–3; Lev. 19:11–12, 35-36, Deut. 25:13–16, Prov. 6:16-19, 11:1, 12:17-19 &
22, Eph. 4:25)

Do not swear an oath

Oaths are not necessary

Though the Law of Moses allows them, it does not require them

Oaths made to God or others, must be honored (Deut. 23:21)

You don’t have the right to commit that which is not yours

All things belong to God (even you).

You may not be able to live up to that which you swear

God alone is all-powerful

If you swear falsely by God’s name, you profane His name (Lev. 19:12)

In a recent survey about 70% of Americans surveyed indicated that they believe that there is a generally
lack of respect and civility in the country and that this is a serious problem.

• Respect: To give particular attention to, show consideration for, or hold in high or special regard
(Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary, 10th Edition)

• Should respect be given or must respect be earned?

• “Every man is to be respected as an absolute end in himself; and it is a crime against the dignity that
belongs to him as a human being, to use him as a mere means for some external purpose.” -
Immanuel Kant, Prussian geographer and philosopher (1724-1804)

• Human Dignity is “the intrinsic worth that inheres in every human being. … the source of human
dignity is rooted in the concept of Imago Dei, in Christ’s redemption and in our ultimate destiny of
union with God. Human dignity therefore transcends any social order as the basis for rights and is
neither granted by society nor can it be legitimately violated by society. In this way, human dignity is
the conceptual basis for human rights. While providing the foundation for many normative claims,
one direct normative implication of human dignity is that every human being should be
acknowledged as an inherently valuable member of the human community and as a unique
expression of life, with an integrated bodily and spiritual nature. Because there is a social or
communal dimension to human dignity itself, persons must be conceived of, not in overly-
individualistic terms, but as being inherently connected to the rest of society.” - from the Ascension
Health Code of Ethics

“Never look down on anybody unless you're helping him up.” - Jesse Jackson, American political activist
and preacher

“Should not all men be restrained from acts of violence and even unkindness against their fellow men by
observing in them something which resembles the Saviour of the world.” – Benjamin Rush,
Commonplace Book, May 27, 1790.


• "Our culture has fallen into a kind of moral vertigo – we value tolerance so much that we don't know
how to talk to each other about what is right and good,” - Rev. Kevin Phillips, director of the
Business Leadership and Spirituality Network (BLSN) quoted in “Competing Values”, by Jane
Lampman, Christian Science Monitor, August 1, 2002.

• Did you know that the term “ tolerance” (or in some translations “sufferance” Gk. eao) is rarely
used in the New Testament, and that where it is used it is generally used in a negative sense? For
– “Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because you tolerate that woman Jezebel,
who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and
to eat things sacrificed unto idols.” Rev. 2:20

• By contrast, the New Testament uses the term “ love” Gk. agapeo nearly 150 times in a positive
– So what’s the difference between love and tolerance?
Tolerance: Demonstrating sympathy for, indulging, or making allowances for, beliefs or practices
differing from, or conflicting with, one's own.

Love: In the Christian context, from the Gk., agapeo, an active and beneficent interest in, and
concern for, the well-being of another. It is given unconditionally and unselfishly. It involves a clear
determination of will and judgment (i.e. a responsible choice). A loving person, honestly (Rom. 12:9)
gives respect and demonstrates compassion. Demonstrating such love often requires courage. The
source of such love comes “from above” (James 1:17).

Would you rather be loved or tolerated?

If you are behaving in a manner that you know others do not approve of, its probably

“An eye for an eye” (Retribution) (Ex. 21:24; Lev. 24:20; Deut. 19:21)

An “eye for an eye” (Rex Talionis), intended as a limitation not a license. A measured response to
restore the moral balance upset by offense. The practice of "getting even" with a wrongdoer. The
suffering of the wrongdoer is seen as good in itself, even if it has no other benefits. One reason for
societies to include this judicial element is to diminish the perceived need for street justice, blood
revenge, and vigilantism. Sometimes called the “mirror-punishment” or “poetic justice”.

Vengeance belongs to the Lord (Deut. 32:35; Rom. 12:19; Heb. 10:30)

Government, and the legal system, has a role as an “avenger” in God’s system, which we are obliged
to respect (Rom. 13:1-7)

Retribution is found in “Old Testament” or Hebrew Scriptures of the Bible (see (Deuteronomy 19:21;
Leviticus 24:20; Exodus 21:22-24) and in the Code of Hammurabi. It often involves punishing the
part of the body used to commit the crime. Extreme examples include the amputation of the hands of
a thief, as still permitted by Sharia (Islamic) law, or during the Middle Ages in Europe; or disabling
the foot or leg of a runaway slave. A less extreme example is the American tradition of putting soap
into a child's mouth for using inappropriate language ("washing your mouth out with soap").

Another form of retribution involves mirroring the physical method of the crime, e.g. executing a
murderer with his own weapon.

“The instinct for retribution is part of the nature of man, and channeling that instinct in the
administration of criminal justice serves an important purpose in promoting the stability of a society
governed by law. When people begin to believe that organized society is unwilling or unable to
impose upon criminal offenders the punishment they "deserve," then there are sown the seeds of
anarchy - of self-help, vigilante justice, and lynch law.” - Justice Potter Stewart, concurring, Furman
v. Georgia, 408 U.S. 238, 308 (1972)


In Rummel v. Estelle, 445 U.S. 263 (1980), the U.S. Supreme Court held that it did not constitute
"cruel and unusual punishment" to impose a life sentence, under a recidivist statute, upon a defendant
who had been convicted, successively, of fraudulent use of a credit card to obtain $80 worth of goods
or services, passing a forged check in the amount of $28.36, and obtaining $120.75 by false
pretenses. They said that "one could argue without fear of contradiction by any decision of this Court
that for crimes concededly classified and classifiable as felonies, that is, as punishable by significant
terms of imprisonment in a state penitentiary, the length of the sentence actually imposed is purely a
matter of legislative prerogative."

Two years later, in Hutto v. Davis, 454 U.S. 370 (1982), the Court similarly rejected an 8th
Amendment challenge to a prison term of 40 years and fine of $20,000 for possession and
distribution of approximately 9 ounces of marijuana.

Likewise, in Harmelin v. Michigan, 501 U.S. 957 (1991), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a
mandatory life sentence without possibility of parole for possessing more than 650 grams of cocaine
was not cruel and unusual under the 8th Amendment just because it seemed "significantly

Don’t resist the evil-doer? (Matt. 5:39-42)

Proverbs 25:26 declares that "like a muddied spring or a polluted well is a righteous man who gives
way to the wicked." The lesson there: there are times when we need to confront and resist evil.

Romans 13:1 tells us one of the ways we can resist evil is through government, which would include
use of the legal system.

So it would appear that Jesus wasn’t talking about walking away from all evil. Rather that he was
addressing the way we should deal with personal confrontations. Jesus was not saying that we
shouldn’t oppose evil in our world, Jesus was talking about our attitude towards personal slights and

Instead of being bitter and resentful toward what they were being required to do against their will,
Jesus was teaching His followers to do what is required cheerfully and graciously, no matter how
distasteful or inconvenient it may be.

“Going the second mile” can break a cycle of hostility and resentment.

Our tendency when someone insults us is to strike back.

Maybe you heard about the Desert Storm soldier who while he was overseas received a Dear
John letter from his girlfriend back home in the states. To add insult to injury, she wrote, "Will
you please return my favorite photograph of myself-- I need it for my engagement picture in
the local newspaper." The poor guy was devastated, but all the soldiers came to his rescue.
They went throughout the entire camp and collected pictures of all the guys’ girlfriends. They
filled up an entire shoe box and sent it to the girl along with a note from the guy saying,
"Please find your picture, and return the rest for the life of me, I can’t remember which one
you were!!"


The KJV rendering, "...not to resist..." in v.39 is a translation of the Greek term anthistemi, which
means in one sense "to take legal action against."

In the Baba Kamma, the collection of Jewish laws and traditions compiled in Babylon about 500
A.D., there is a very exacting formula for assessing damage. If a man has injured another man, he is
liable on five counts – for injury, for pain, for healing, for time loss, and for indignity suffered. These
were laid out this way:

Injury: The injured man would be given a value as if he were a slave in the slave market. His value
before and after the injury was evaluated, and the man responsible for the injury had to pay the

Pain: The judge or judges would estimate how much money a man would accept to willingly submit
himself to the pain that was incurred with the injury, and the offender had to pay that amount as well.

Healing: The offender had to pay all medical costs associated with treating the injury and attending to
the medical needs of the injured party until healing was complete.

Time Loss: Aside from being required to pay for all wages lost by the injured man while he was
unable to work, the offending party also would be required to pay additional monies if the one injured
was unable to work in the discipline or trade that he had worked at before the injury and he had to
take a less lucrative position after the injury.

Indignity Suffered: The offender had to pay damages for humiliation and indignity suffered by the
man he had injured. The types of compensation specified in the Rex Talionis are surprisingly modern.

You have a right to confront and not just be run over (Acts 22:25-29). “As they stretched him out to
flog him, Paul said to the centurion standing there, “Is it legal for you to flog a Roman citizen who
hasn’t even been found guilty?” When the centurion heard this, he went to the commander and
reported it. “What are you going to do?” he asked. “This man is a Roman citizen.” The commander
went to Paul and asked, “Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?” “Yes, I am,” he answered. Then the
commander said, “I had to pay a big price for my citizenship.” “But I was born a citizen,” Paul
replied. Those who were about to question him withdrew immediately. The commander himself was
alarmed when he realized that he had put Paul, a Roman citizen, in chains.

Exodus 22 teaches that every person had an absolute right to his cloak, since it was vital to existence.

In our Declaration of Independence, we declare that certain rights are unalienable and are given to us
by no one less that our Creator.

But, just because you have a “right” does not mean that you must assert it. (That’s what we call
demonstrating “grace”.)

In contrast to suing a brother for every possible infringement, Christ is saying, "give people space."
This has a pragmatic effect, reconciliation (see Proverbs 15:1, "A soft answer turns away wrath.").

"The principle here is not primarily the avoidance of lawsuits, but a radically unselfish attitude to
one's rights and property." - R.T. France

In Proverbs 24:29, we read, “Do not say, "Thus I shall do to him as he has done to me; I will render to
the man according to his work." And, in Proverbs 25:21, this directive for mercy is recorded, “If your
enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.” Even in the Law
itself, the instruction is clear in Leviticus 19:18 “You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge
against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD.”

Love your enemies? (Matt. 5:44; Rom. 12:20-21)

God loves all and wants all to come to salvation.

So, if we are to be like God, we must likewise love all.

Eph. 4:31-5:2 says “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put
away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each
other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved
children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an
offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.”

The real mark of true Christianity is unselfish love and a laying down of our lives for others.

Apparently it is a psychological fact that violence is born out of weakness, not strength.
Someone who is strong can love unlovely people. Yet someone who is emotionally immature
only thinks of themselves and they hurt other people in order to protect themselves.