Learning to identify your values is one thing. Figuring out how those values line up with what the Bible has to say is another matter. As Christian parents, this is a question of supreme importance. Unfortunately, many professing believers don’t see how God’s values differ from those of the world in which we live. On a very general level, we can say that Christian values emphasize the importance of the invisible, the intangible, the spiritual, and the eternal, whereas the world tends to major in things that are material, measurable, temporal, and advantageous to one’s own interests.
But the rift goes even deeper than this. Ultimately, the difference lies in the question of authority. The Bible asserts that God sets the standard about what’s real and true and lasting; the worldly perspective says that each of us gets to make up our own standards. By the way, worldly values can often be cleverly wrapped up in Christian terms, so be aware. Just because it sounds “Christian” doesn’t mean it’s biblically accurate.
Another way of discovering your actual values is to compare a few key biblical values with what the world values. Review the lists on the previous page as honestly as possible. Which statements more accurately describe you?
Once you’ve nailed these issues down, you’ll be in a position to help your kids gain a firmer grasp on the things that matter most in life. In most cases, you’ll do this not by what you say, but by what you do.
Godly Values versus Worldly Values
What matters most to adherents of the godly and the worldly value systems?
- Divine commandments guide my reality.
- There is design and purpose in creation.
- The image of God defines humankind.
- God determines the value of life.
- Feelings have value but don’t define truth.
- God decides who and what I am.
- Love for God and others is paramount.
- God’s approval matters most.
- Personal agenda guides my reality.
- The world is random; meaning is personal.
- Humanity “creates” itself.
- Life is valuable as it relates to me.
- Personal feelings define reality.
- I choose my own identity.
- Profit and self-interest come first.
- Social approval is all-important.
Pinpointing the Danger
Here’s the main question: How do our values influence our daily lives? The answer lies in the connection between our value system and our overall sense of well-being. Christian values and Christian hope constitute a “steadfast anchor of the soul” (Hebrews 6:19). They are the rock-solid foundation that stands firm when the storms of life descend (Matthew 7:24-25). With the Word of God as their solid ground, Christians have a sense of certainty about what matters most in life. That sense of certainty relieves tension, enables wise choices, and produces inner peace.
Worldly values, on the other hand, are like a foundation of sand. They dissolve when the rains fall and the winds begin to blow. They simply don’t satisfy, and as a result, there’s a sense in which they lead directly to despair. And the link between despair and suicide is obvious.
What happens when you chase after something you consider valuable but fail to lay hold of it? Or having laid hold of it, you find that it disappoints? And worst of all, what happens when you conclude there’s nothing in the universe of any value or significance that can become the foundation of your life? When you reach that point, your sense of contentment crumbles and despair sets in. That’s when you move into dangerous territory.
Worldly Values and Despair: Tracing the Link
A strong case can be made for the idea that worldly values lead to despair, which in turn is a common cause of suicide. That’s because worldly values tend to have the following characteristics in common:
- They’re always changing (subject to fashion).
- They’re generally self-centered, so they’re too narrow to provide a foundation for a broad, comprehensive, and meaningful outlook on life.
- They lack a solid footing.
- They lure their devotees into endless, fruitless striving (Ecclesiastes 1:2-3).
- They provide no sense of certainty.
- The rewards they promise are neither lasting nor truly satisfying.
- As a result, they create anxiety and internal tension.