-By Emmanuel O. Adewusi ||
Although it has become a cliché that the end justifies the means yet only a few people understood what it means. Those who understand and have applied this principle to their ways of life have been led astray, while the ones who lack understanding are severally faced with confusion in the dilemma of decision making. The general meaning is that any path you take to fulfill your purpose does not matter (just or unjust) as long as it gives you what you want.
Most politicians seem to be living on this idea as they pursue their goals, paradoxically respecting their ends through irrespective means. This luscious ideology, do anything to get anything that you want, contributes to societal degradation in our world today. The members of our modern society have also reinforced it by hallowing the success gained through whichever means.
Today’s Christians are becoming misled by such ungodly clichés, following unrighteous means to become successful; cheating to pass their exams, scamming to get rich, denying their faith to become famous, fornicating to satisfy their sexual desire and compromising to have dominion in the world. The problem, therefore, lies not only in the means but even in what the ends should be.
What does the Bible teach about means and ends?
Psalms 1 explains the blessedness in both the means and the path of a righteous man. Blessed is the man that does not walk in the path of the wicked…his delight is in the teaching of Christ, to become like Him. Therefore his end is situated in a place where he will be productive in every aspect of his life. Psalm 73 paints the picture of how the righteous man can be tempted to desire the ways of the wicked because he possesses health and wealth but through violence and oppression. When the Psalmist entered into the sanctuary of God, then he realized the ends of the wicked and ungodly and the terror of their slippery path that fast tracks their destruction.
The abrupt fall of man and God’s path of restoration is the apex of the lessons on ends and means. Being perfect, God’s principle is that both the ends (the purpose) and the means (the path) must be justified (perfect). Therefore, to achieve a perfect purpose of restoration, he sent his only begotten Son as the perfect path. Why is the blood of lamb and goat not able to cleanse God’s people in the days of the old? Because such path to salvation is imperfect but when the perfect path, Jesus, was made manifest the perfect eternal purpose was fulfilled. God does not settle for a path that is not perfect therefore he commands and instructs his children to follow the ways of Christ in all they do.
What is the test for my means and end?
The perfect means glorifies and pleases God. Whatever we do to attain success should bring praises and glory to God; not the cheating, not scamming but diligently working and patiently expecting the result. This is a principle expressed in the book of Proverbs (1 Corinthians 10:31, Proverbs 22:29).
The perfect means does not hurt your neighbour. “To love the Lord your God with all your heart and love your neighbour” is the ten commandments summarized by/in Jesus. Today’s world tries to practice the mock-up version of this by side-lining God to focus on the neighbour syndrome; as long as I don’t hurt the next person, I can do anything to achieve my purpose. The vicious cycle created from this attitude is the selfish and ugly “me syndrome” that birthed the same spirit competition that leads to cheating. Therefore we must love God to love our neighbours (Matthew 22 v 37- 40).
The perfect means does not hurt you. The danger of the wrong means is that both your physical life and your spiritual life are at risk. Many graduates have become have unemployable since they cheated their ways while other youngsters have died in drug deals losing their soul (Mark 8 v 34 -37).
The perfect means and end is Christ. Our ultimate goal is to become like Christ through Christ. He is the way (path), the truth (perfect) and the life (purpose). We must come to him daily to begin or continue in the path. When our primary need is to be like Christ our means of pursuing every secondary desire will please God; both the ends and the means must be justified because God will judge everything (John, 14 v 6, Romans 2 v 5 – 11).