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"Values Series"
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Values Chart
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Mark 12:28-31 - One of the scribes came, and heard them questioning together. Knowing that he had answered them well, he asked him, "Which commandment is the greatest of all?" Jesus answered, "The greatest is, 'Hear, Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one: you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.' This is the first commandment. The second is like this, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."

The two commands in this passage represent the two highest priority values ("Level 1" and "Level 2" in the chart).

1 Samuel 15:22 - Samuel said, "Has Yahweh [God's name in Hebrew] as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of Yahweh? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams."

Obedience to the Lord and heeding his word would be a "Level 1" priority. This must ALWAYS be done. Burnt offerings and sacrifices would be a "Level 3A" priority. Though not a mandatory obligation for all people everywhere (today, we do not have to sacrifice animals), it became an obligation to Israel, when the Covenant of the Law was made between them and God, at Mt. Sinai.

Matthew 23:23-24 - "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint, dill, and cumin, and have left undone the weightier matters of the law: justice, mercy, and faith. But you ought to have done these, and not to have left the other undone. You blind guides, who strain out a gnat, and swallow a camel!"

In this instance, we see a conflict between a "Level 2" value - things which are an expression of love toward "neighbor" (justice, mercy and faithfulness) and a "Level 3A" value (giving a tenth of one's spices - a religious practice). The Pharisees' focus was backwards because they were focusing on the lower-priority value and neglecting the greater one. [Note: the "tithe" was as much a part of Israel's required religious activities as were the sacrifices (mentioned in the previous example). But they were NEVER intended to be given a priority that was higher than love toward God and toward one's neighbor.]

1 Corinthians 10:23-33 - "All things are lawful for me," but not all things are profitable. "All things are lawful for me," but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own, but each one his neighbor's good. Whatever is sold in the butcher shop, eat, asking no question for the sake of conscience, for "the earth is the Lord's, and its fullness." But if one of those who don't believe invites you to a meal, and you are inclined to go, eat whatever is set before you, asking no questions for the sake of conscience. But if anyone says to you, "This was offered to idols," don't eat it for the sake of the one who told you, and for the sake of conscience. For "the earth is the Lord's, and all its fullness." Conscience, I say, not your own, but the other's conscience. For why is my liberty judged by another conscience? If I partake with thankfulness, why am I denounced for that for which I give thanks? Whether therefore you eat, or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no occasions for stumbling, either to Jews, or to Greeks, or to the assembly of God; even as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of the many, that they may be saved.

This rather lengthy passage expresses values from every level on the chart. Because of the number of values being expressed, the chart will be used to arrange them:



Good things: #1 Priority (= Mandatory)

Must always be done.

  • Eating and drinking (etc.) in a manner that glorifies God.

Good things: #2 Priority (= Mandatory)

Must be done, but anything with a higher priority (Level #1) must be done first.

  • Concerned about the good of others.
  • Pleasing others rather than self.
  • Living in a manner that doesn't hinder another's salvation.

Good things: #3 Priority (= Optional, but may vary according to circumstances)

Can be done (depending on circumstances) but anything with a higher priority (Levels #1 and #2) must be done first.

  • 3A - Good things that have become mandatory because of a commitment to do them (a promise, covenant, agreement, etc.), or because of some connection to a higher value.

  • 3B - Good things that remain optional, with no commitment to participate or to refrain.

  • 3C - Good things that have become forbidden in your specific circumstances, because of a commitment or promise to refrain from them, or because of some conflict with a higher value. These can no longer be considered good, under these specific circumstances.
  • Eating meat without having questions about it (conscience), when invited to a meal.


  • "Things I'm allowed to do"
  • Eating meat (in general).


  • "Things I'm allowed to do" that are not helpful, or do not encourage growth.
  • Eating meat if questions of conscience are raised by another (in this instance, by the host?).

Bad /sinful things (= Forbidden)

Must never be done.

  • Being concerned mainly with one's own good.
  • Causing others to stumble.
  • Focusing on conscience-related issues, when invited to a meal.

Note: If two people individually examine a complex topic such as this one, there may be instances in which they end up with slightly different results (such as whether something belongs in "Level 3C" or in "Level 4"). This is not to say that Scripture is unclear, nor does it necessarily mean that one of the individuals is incorrect in his analysis. Sometimes this may be simply due to the word choices used to express those values. For example, the phrase "Focusing on conscience-related issues," without the second part of the phrase ("when invited to a meal") would belong to "Level 3C." There may be some other circumstances in which such a focus wouldn't be sinful.

Dennis Hinks 1996, 2004
Scripture quoted from the World English Bible (public domain)

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