Ethical Standards

12 Nov

Thus says the LORD of hosts: Execute true justice, show mercy and compassion everyone to his brother.  Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor.  Let none of you plan evil in his heart against his brother.  Zechariah 7:9,10

As Christian healthcare workers we are called to be salt and light where we work and study.  We are called to use our God-given talents in such a way that is honoring to God, reflects His glory, and points people to Jesus.  This happens when we apply His principles to how we administer care to our patients.

Our passage comes from the Old Testament book, Zechariah.  The Jewish nation had returned from exile in Babylon.  They were rebuilding Jerusalem and the temple while facing opposition from neighboring countries.  Yet, they quickly forgot the lessons they had learned during the exile.  This book was written to encourage those who had returned, to foster repentance from hypocrisy and return to biblical ethical standards in preparation for the return of their Messiah.

As healthcare workers we often find ourselves in a working environment which is opposed to biblical ethical standards.  And worse, we think, as the nation of Israel did, that our outward conformity is good enough instead of examining the true condition of our hearts.  We are hypocritical as well, saying one thing and doing another.   How then should we behave with our patients and colleagues?

First, we should administer true justice.  Our dealings should be fair, not showing partiality to one or the other, but treating people on the basis of the best knowledge we currently possess or refer to someone who is knowledgeable.  We conform to the rules of our hospitals and ministry of health in honoring man, but often we do not do what is most pleasing to God. Thus, we have a false righteousness.

Second, what is it that pleases God?  To show mercy and compassion.  We should not give up fighting to bring both physical and spiritual healing to our patients.  God has been patient and long suffering with us.  Compassion is the essence of what Jesus did for us, taking our sin upon himself with the desire to relieve our suffering.  He is the Great Physician and is capable of bringing both physical and spiritual healing.  It is not enough to “Primum non nocere” (First, do no harm) but we should also show kindness to our patients and colleagues.

Third, we should not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor.  We should treat people with respect and dignity, not taking advantage of them because of their age, social strata, economic position or country of origin which could make them easily exploited.

Fourth, we should not plan evil in our hearts against others.  The condition of our hearts is critical.  Our motivations are just as damaging as our actions themselves.  Ultimately our inner thoughts, particularly in moments of stress, will reveal themselves in outward actions.

Therefore, let us join together in caring for our patients to administer true justice, show mercy and compassion to one another, not oppressing the widow, the fatherless, the alien or the poor and not think evil of each other in our hearts.

Read Zechariah 7 and 8, Matthew 23:23-24.


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