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In Theory: When one's compass starts to turn

March 21, 2014

Earlier this month, the publication Scientific American reported that a series of studies at both Harvard University and the University of Utah showed that people are more likely to make ethical decisions in the morning than they are as the day wears on.

In one of the studies, subjects were given math problems and told they would be paid a nickel for every solved problem. They were allowed to report their own scores, which afforded them the opportunity to lie and receive more money. Those who participated in the morning sessions were less likely to cheat than those who took part in the afternoon sessions.

Q: Do you feel you are able to keep your moral compass straight all day long, or do you notice that it’s easier to do so in the morning? What tips might you offer others who face difficult ethical decisions when they are facing a perceived weakness in their moral compass?


On the Day of Passover before Good Friday Peter promised Jesus that he would remain obedient even if everyone else fell away. Not very long after that when Jesus asked Peter and the others to keep watch in prayer at the Garden of Gethsemane, three times he found all of them, including Peter, sleeping instead of praying. Rather than reacting with anger, Jesus encouraged them: “Keep watching and praying, that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41).

That incident is recorded in the Bible for our instruction and encouragement. We’re not alone in beginning the day with good intentions but ending up with less than ideal results. When the day’s activities have physically worn me out, or when I’m hungry or when I’ve dealt with various frustrations I notice that my thoughts, words and actions aren’t always as pure as I’d like. What to do? Ask God to help you. His spirit gives us wisdom, strength and guidance when we’re “low.” Know your weaknesses and weak times and that the test is coming. Be prepared for it! And if at all possible avoid the circumstances, people and places that you know will be difficult when you’re at your lowest. God loves you and he will help you.

Pastor Jon Barta
Valley Baptist Church



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