HIGHER THAN ETHICS
This is not to say that we are unethical. If we are given too much change when we buy something, we return the extra amount. If we visit someone, we do not step over the threshold until we are first invited in; otherwise, we would be intruding. Such behavior is higher than ethics. The Lord said that our righteousness must surpass that of the scribes and Pharisees, or we are not qualified for the kingdom of the heavens (Matt. 5:20). What we have is higher than ethics. We have a Person. To live ethically is merely a performance. Our stability, honesty, and faithfulness are not part of a code of ethics. They are Christ.
A TROUBLESOME INKPOT
This does not mean that I am naturally a good person. When I was a teen-ager, I was working for a large company. One day the place caught on fire, and everything was in confusion. An inkpot on the manager’s desk attracted my attention. Amidst all the turmoil of moving things, I picked it up and slipped it into my pocket.
After I got saved and began to seek after the Lord, the trouble began! I would tell the Lord Jesus that I loved Him, but He seemed to say, “What about the inkpot?” When I closed my eyes to pray—inkpot! When I tried to read the Bible—inkpot! When I went to bed at night and tried to sleep—inkpot! I told myself that I must resolve this matter of the inkpot. I looked all over to see if I could find it, but I could not seem to locate it anywhere. After much prayer, I found a way. I sensed within that what I could do would be to take the manager the money to pay for the inkpot. I was happy. I figured out how much it was worth and took the money with me to the manager.
On the way there I stopped to buy a calendar with beautiful pictures. (It was New Year’s time.) Then I went on to the manager’s. He said, “My, we haven’t seen each other for a long time. What brought you to see me?” He had always considered me a fine young man. My face turned red. The Lord had told me I must not use polished words but confess directly. I answered him, “I came here because I stole from you.” I told him the story, then added, “Now here is the money for the inkpot. I am sorry I cannot return the inkpot, but I think this money will more than cover its cost.” He said, “No, no, no! An inkpot is a small thing. I don’t want your money.” I begged him to take it, telling him I would have no peace if he refused. Then he noticed the calendar and asked, “What is this?” I did not want to talk about the calendar, but I told him what it was. Then he said, “I don’t want your money, but I do like this calendar. I’ll take this instead of the money.” I did not like his proposal—I wanted the calendar!—but the Lord said I should go along with what he said. I agreed, thanked him, and left.
To tell the truth, I was not happy. Yes, the inkpot problem was gone, but so was my beautiful calendar. On the way home, though, I met another acquaintance. He greeted me and then asked, “How would you like this calendar?” It was another calendar. I was so happy I wanted to jump.
THE PERSON PRESENTED IN THE WORD
We were not good people before we were saved. At that time we did not have Christ. But now we have this living Person. We have no need of religion or ethics. Unfortunately, we as Christians are still under the influence of today’s religious and ethical concepts. These concepts frustrate our seeing this living Person, even when we come to the Bible. We must drop all such preoccupations and pray, “Lord, I come to You through Your Word. The Bible is Your Word. I drop my concepts. I want only You.”
What a Person is presented to us in this book! He was the Word. He was God. He became flesh. In Him was life, and this life was the light of men. Does this sound like religion or ethics? When I was young I used to wonder how He could be both God and the Word and how could I take Him as my life. Over the years I have found out that this One is not only the Word, but also the Spirit. “Now the Lord is that Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:17). Then, from John 6:63 we can see that the word is also the Spirit. He is one Person, called the Lord, the Word, and the Spirit. These three are one. The Lord is also life (John 14:6), as are the Word and the Spirit (6:63; Rom. 8:10). The Lord, the Word, the Spirit, and life are four in one.
(Life Messages, Vol. 2 (#42-75), Chapter 4, by Witness Lee)