TRACING THE TRUTH.
No right turn on red.
You see those phrases all the time, don't you? These are just a few examples of the precepts (instructions and commands) that we follow, often without even thinking.
Refrigerate after opening.
Shake before using.
Tear here to open.
Watch your step.
Place first class postage here.
Precepts are all around us. They're a part of our life. They help us function more easily and more comfortably in life. And most of the time, they're pretty painless.
God has given us precepts as well. We usually call them commandments. He has told us, "Do not worship any other gods besides me. Do not steal. Do not lie. Love one another." These precepts are just a few of the commands God gives in the Bible. Jewish tradition maintains that God gave 624 specific commands!
God has communicated a lot about himself through precepts. His commands reveal what he likes, what he doesn't like, what he says is good or bad. But the precepts of the Lord are not just a bunch of do's and don'ts; they also show us important principles God values.
Principles help explain the why behind a command. A concern for safety is one of the principles behind a mother's command to look both ways before crossing the street. Reverence for life is the principle behind the command "Do not kill." A principle behind the command "Do not give false testimony" is honesty. Learning to identify the principles behind God's precepts will help us see the overarching truth that applies, even when a specific command doesn't seem to apply.
But if you really want to know right from wrong, you must look beyond the precept, beyond the principle, to the person of God. His nature defines right and wrong. The reason honesty is right and lying is wrong is that God is truth. The reason love is right and hatred is wrong is that God is love. The reason mercy is right and cruelty is wrong is that God is merciful.
REFLECT: Choose a virtue (for example: purity, love, honesty, justice). See if you can explain why it is right by tracing it through precept and principle to the person of God. Or think about the virtue you chose. Is it something you value? Why?
PRAY: "Father God, when I don't know which way to turn, help me remember to rely on your principles for direction."