Faith & values: Principles to Live by Go Unchanged

8/28/2008

Without a doubt, human words have power.

Words can win or wound, kiss or kill, inspire or infuriate.

It will never be forgotten what Winston Churchill said when he gave his eloquent speech at Dunkirk on June 4, 1940:

 

We shall fight on the beaches;

we shall fight on the landing grounds;

we shall fight in the fields and in the streets;

we shall fight in the hills;

we shall never surrender!

At other times, Churchill could lighten tense moments with humor or sarcasm.

It is reported that Lady Astor, who disliked Churchill intensely, said, "Winston, if you were my husband, I'd put arsenic in your tea."

Without a moment's hesitation, Churchill replied, "Madam, if you were my wife, I'd drink it."

Words do have power.

There are three words that are known to work together, and, in so doing, they contain great power and hope and stability. They are the words upon which our social quality of life rests; they are standards, convictions and principles.

Standards are not principles or convictions. A standard is a wall of protection to help man maintain his convictions. Standards change and vary throughout history, geographical location and popularity.

Standards are important, but one can have standards without convictions. It is much easier to have standards than convictions.

This is why sometimes wife abusers, adulterers and gamblers become comfortable in the average church. They adapt to the standards, but live without convictions or principles. They hide behind the fences.

Convictions are what we actually believe.

Principles are what convictions grow out of. When a person believes a principle and governs his or her life by that truth, it becomes a conviction.

A principle, then, is a truth that never changes regardless of the dispensation, location, circumstance or acceptance. For example, "don't steal" and "don't murder" are never-changing principles that need to become personal convictions with standards (laws and penalties) that protect the underlying principle.

"Expedients are for the hour, but principles are for the ages." - Henry Ward Beecher

Therefore, principles are the key. When people live by principles, they will not be intolerant, extremist in their conduct. They will have strong convictions and consistent standards; thus, they make great citizens and responsible employees and employers.

"The value of a principle is the number of things it will explain." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"In matters of principle, stand like a rock; in matters of taste, swim with the current." - Thomas Jefferson

Since principles are the key, where are they to be found?

 

God decreed that the Bible-centered local church is to be the primary upholder of sound principles: "The church is the pillar and foundation of the truth" (I Timothy 3:15).

Unfortunately, all religions and churches are not created equal. Where God's principles from his Bible are not read, taught and embraced, non-truth-based, socially unhealthy behavior will fill the vacuum.

"The difference between principles and rules is radical. Rules can be made and, therefore, broken. Principles cannot be made, and cannot be broken.

"Rules are things of time. Principles are matters of eternity. Rules are accidental. Principles are essential." - G. Campbell Morgan

Science can review the Zirbes Data File, the Worldwide Earthquake Database, the ABD Catalog, the Pacheco and Sykes Catalog and the Tsapanos Catalog so as to reach back as far as 2100 B.C. in order to study earthquake activity. But, only God's Bible can take us back to the Ancient Of Days (Daniel 7:22) who can enrich our lives with his eternal principles that can become personal convictions, which are then upheld and protected by carefully crafted standards.

These three words, acting in concert, are words that can win, kiss, inspire and take the earthquake-like tremors out of our society.

"Methods are many,

"Principles are few.

"Methods always change,

"Principles never do." - Anonymous