The substance of moral fiber

singled OuTphoto © 2009 Giuseppe | more info (via: Wylio)


I was in a great conversation with a friend the other night, and we talked a bit about the true substance of moral fiber. He suggests that the real substance is when there is something that is right, that you absolutely do NOT want to do, and you do it anyway. For this kind of moral action, there is the greatest reward, because you did what is right even though you did not want to do so. On the other hand, Jesus teaches in the parable of the hidden treasure, the rare pearl, the lost coin, the lost sheep, the prodigal son, that the kingdom of God is really ALL about desire. The pharisees did all kinds of righteousness for the sake of appearance, while their heart was not in it; thus they were called “white-washed tombs.” If you do what is right even though you do not want to, even though your heart is not in it, is it not just a sham? We thus have two diametrically opposed ideas about what constitutes true moral fiber, and I am hard-pressed to say which is true and which is false.

If we say, it is simple! Jesus suffered the loss of lesser desires for the joy set before Him. Yet, this is to say that there is not real sacrifice of the desire for the greater good. The cross has left an enduring and indelible mark on Him; there was some comfort or wholeness that was genuinely destroyed for Him. Yet, surely there is a true reward, perhaps an unseen reward, for forsaking one’s desires for the greater good, even the good which is unseen. The cross represents a complete surrender of all immediate gratification, and the placing of all of one’s hope in the resurrection, which, because you are dead, you have absolutely no control to produce.

In the end, this post is a question, not a statement. Does moral fiber consist of going with desire for something greater, or going against desire to do what is right for the greater good? What do you think?

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