Values to Live By
What are your values? Many need to reevaluate
VALUES relate to needs. Usually we do not value things that do not fill a need. The stronger the need, the higher the value we put on meeting it. Our needs are many and they vary. They are different at different times. They are different for different people. Some needs are inherent. Others are acquired. Some are not essential and may even be detrimental. We are not aware of some of our needs, and others that we know about we fail to value until it is too late. For these reasons people have different sets of values that they live by. Have you thought about yours lately? Do you put higher values on meeting the more important needs?
There are basic needs common to all of us. Air, water, food, warmth, sleep—these are needs that must be satisfied if we are to survive. When their demands become acute, all else must wait until they are met. It is true that man does not live by bread alone, but when he is starving, food has priority. So it is with those other needs relating to survival. But, when they are satisfied, our attention turns to other things.
Man is gregarious, not a solitary creature, as are some animals. He needs the companionship of others. For it to be pleasant, he must feel accepted. He values this so much that he will forgo some of his personal preferences in order to fit in with the group. Even if the association is sometimes abrasive, it is preferred to being alone. So strong is this need that some will set aside their own principles and values to have the feeling of belonging. It is said that what is honored in a society is what is striven for—a saying based on this need for approval. Many place a higher value on this esteem of others than they do on their own personal integrity. It is this tendency that gives force to the Biblical warning: “Bad associations spoil useful habits.”—1 Cor. 15:33.
Value Your Self-Respect
If we abandon our personal integrity or values in order to be popular, we will suffer for it. We will lose our self-respect, our feeling of personal worth, our love for ourselves. The psychological damage is great and its repercussions are far-reaching. In both the Hebrew and the Greek Scriptures we are told to love others as we love ourselves. This love of self is not the indulgent, selfish, egotistical kind, but it involves having values to live by that enable you to respect yourself. You must love yourself in order to love others. Without this love you will feel insecure and jealous of others and will be tempted to criticize and gossip about them. Finding fault with others makes one feel superior. However, the Bible’s admonition is to do nothing “out of egotism, but with lowliness of mind considering that the others are superior to you,” and to “keep this mental attitude in you that was also in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 2:3, 5; John 13:5) So do not try to build yourself up by tearing others down. To do this diminishes self-respect and devalues the person.
We should value useful work. Jehovah God, our Creator, is a worker, and we are made in his image and likeness. He takes pleasure in seeing the completion of his works and he pronounces them good. (Gen. 1:10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31) Man needs to work, to have a sense of accomplishment. Work well done testifies to the worker’s abilities and imparts a feeling of worth to him. Idleness makes us feel useless and of little value, whereas good work gives purpose and meaning to our lives. Many times we hear people say: ‘Life has no meaning. What’s the purpose of it all?’ Such persons are overwhelmed by a sense of futility.
Maybe they work hard and accumulate wealth. This does not satisfy. “A mere lover of silver will not be satisfied with silver, neither any lover of wealth with income. This too is vanity.” (Eccl. 5:10) They base their values on material things, “the desire of the flesh and the desire of the eyes and the showy display of one’s means of life.” (1 John 2:16) Absorbed in the pursuit of material things, they neglect the needs of the spirit. They have only so much time and energy and they invest these in what they value most. Maybe it is wealth or position or prestige. Once they get it, it no longer seems so vital. After all their hard work they end up disillusioned because they lived by the wrong set of values. They lacked awareness of their spiritual needs.
The Greatest of All Values
“Happy are those conscious of their spiritual need,” Jesus said. (Matt. 5:3) Many do not become aware of this need until late in life, when energies wane and little time remains. We value the fulfillment of physical and mental and emotional needs during our lifetime, but at the same time we must realize that none of these things will prolong our lives much beyond threescore and ten or fourscore years. They are for short-term survival. Properly valuing our spiritual need can mean survival eternally. Men say, “You can’t take it with you,” meaning material wealth. But there is something of far greater value that you can take with you: a good name with God. Ecclesiastes 7:1 states: “A good reputation is better than expensive perfume; and the day you die is better than the day you are born.”—Today’s English Version.
How can this be? How can the day you die be better than the day you start life? It is true only if on the day of your death you have a good name with God, a name that he will remember at the time of your resurrection. This will mean your coming forth to a life that can be everlasting, if you place the proper value on it. We are prone to take for granted the many blessings we possess—our vision, our hearing, our general health, life itself. Only when these blessings begin to slip away from us do we suddenly realize their value. When one is dying, others may say, ‘Well, he lived a long and good life,’ as though that makes dying more acceptable. It doesn’t for the one dying. The past doesn’t count. It is the present and the future that matter, that become the real need. So the greatest of all values is meeting that need by now making a good name with God.
Are you aware of this? Do you need to reevaluate the values you live by? The following article tells how happy one person was who did this.