Several moral principles govern the lives of Christians. According to Christian theology, human beings are made in the image of God. With that in mind, believers must treat each other with the utmost respect. They must also make peace with the idea that everyone, regardless of their social status, has inherent dignity by virtue of being God’s children. Additionally, Christians are urged to practice Agape love, also known as brotherly love. Human beings are made in God’s image and are therefore inclined to do good to others. However, the sinful nature of humankind often creeps in, causing a decay in morals. Due to this, most Christians continue to wonder, what is the basic principle of morality?
Jesus Christ was the founder of Christianity and gave many guidelines for morality in his teachings. He summed it all up with two commandments that are founded on love. Matthew 22:36-40 says, ‘Teacher, He asked, which is the greatest commandments in the Law? Jesus answered, Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the most important commandment. Jesus delves deeper into the topic of love. He tells the Pharisees that the second greatest commandment requires Christians to love their neighbors as they love themselves. Based on this scripture, it is apparent that the basic principle of Christian morality is love. Love for God and love for others. Christian morality is also founded on the character of God, in whose image human beings were created.
Where did Christian morality come from? Why is love the greatest commandment according to Jesus? What is the golden rule? Read on to find out the answers to these questions.
Where did Christian morality come from?
The morality of Christians originates from the Bible. As mentioned earlier in Genesis 1:26-28, God deliberately made human beings in His image. He then gave them the mandate to rule over the earth and every living creature. By doing this, God exalted mankind over everything else He created. He also bestowed upon human beings the right moral foundation, which stems from His character and likeness.
Here Christians learn that they are created in the image of God and for His glory. God is known to be the final authority on right and wrong. The moral principles and laws written in the Bible are all based on the character of God. God’s character comprises three features; love, justice, and truth. There are numerous examples in the Bible where God’s love is shown through his grace and understanding. In the book of 1st Timothy 1:13, the apostle Paul remembers how God showed him mercy despite his sinful past as a violent aggressor and persecutor. He explains further by saying that God understood his past ignorance and blasphemy.
Due to the original sin, humankind is prone to falling short morally. No person isn’t capable of sin. The book of Romans 3:23 ‘for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.’ Based on this verse, everybody is born with a sinful nature and should try their best to be like God. The New Testament teaches that one can achieve righteousness by repenting and living according to the word of God. 1st John 1:9 teaches Christians that whoever is willing to confess their sins will receive forgiveness from God. The Bible acknowledges that human beings are inherently flawed. Still, it states that due to their likeness to their creator; God, people can live morally upright lives.
Why does Jesus say that love is the greatest commandment?
The world is full of hate can be dark and desolate. That is evident in the numerous hate crimes committed by humanity since time immemorial. During His lifetime, Jesus tried to show humankind an alternative lifestyle. One governed by love, peace, and justice. Jesus lived an exemplary life, where he showed love even to people who openly opposed him. In John 15:12, Jesus urges his disciples to love one another with the same love he showed to them.
During His arrest, one of Jesus’ disciples cut off the ear of a slave belonging to the high priest presiding over Jesus’ case. Even though he was among the people coming to arrest Him, Jesus was gracious enough to heal him. That incident is found in Luke 22:51, where the Bible says, ‘But Jesus said, enough of this! He touched the man’s ear and healed him.’ Jesus continues to teach the importance of faith throughout his ministry. When the Pharisees asked Jesus about the greatest commandment, He told them to love God with their entire being and love one another unconditionally. Jesus emphasized the need for love because it opens the door to many other moral virtues. A great example is forgiveness. It is nearly impossible to fully forgive someone in the absence of love. Through love and understanding, Christians can avoid sins such as judging others. According to Matthew 7:1, God will judge human beings using the same scale they use to judge others.
In an attempt to show the benefits of following the golden rule, Jesus told his followers about the final judgment. According to His words, Jesus would return and divide humanity into two groups; the righteous and the wicked. In Matthew 25:34-36, it is written, ‘Then the King will say to the people on his right, “come you that are blessed by my Father! Come and possess the Kingdom which has been prepared for you ever since the world’s creation. For I was hungry, and you fed me, I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink, I was a stranger, and you received me, naked, and you clothed me; I was sick, and you took care of me, in prison and you visited me.’ Jesus further explains that God takes it personally when Christians show love to the less fortunate. In this scripture, Christians are instructed to show love to everyone because it is a sure way to join the Kingdom of God.
What is the golden rule?
Many are familiar with the phrase, ‘tit for tat is a fair game .’Although most agree with it, there is an alternative that goes something like, ‘an eye for an eye makes the entire world blind .’That being said, there is a certain rule of life that is predominantly considered golden. Several great thinkers, including Aristotle and Plato, wrote about this golden rule differently. Aristotle and Plato were enlightened Greek philosophers who studied many subjects, including ethics. Commonsense ethical theories state that the golden rule states that people would treat others the same way they would like to be treated. The majority of people try to live within the perimeter of this rule. Sadly, others use it as an excuse to execute vengeance on their offenders.
For Christians, the golden rule is clearly illustrated in the Bible. The book of Matthew 7:12 says, ‘So in everything do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the law and the prophets.’ The same is repeated in Luke 6:31, which simply declares, ‘Do for others just what you want them to do to you .’While Jesus did not invent the golden rule, He was the only person in history who verbalized it positively.
Following the golden rule, as proposed by Jesus, is highly beneficial for Christians. First, the golden rule cultivates empathy for others. Second, it encourages Christians to apply biblical wisdom in their decision-making.
As a devout Christian, I have always been passionate about the Christian faith. This inspired me to pursue a degree in Religious studies and a Masters in Theology in college. I have also been privileged to teach 4 Christian courses in a college and university. Since I am dedicated to spreading the word of God, I am actively involved in the Church. Additionally, I share his word online and cover diverse topics on the Christian faith through my platform. You can read more about me on the about us page.