The Moral Laboratory


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Bible Reading: 1 Timothy 5:1-4

Children or grandchildren . . . should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family. 1 Timothy 5:4, NIV

THE STRANGE CASE of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a classic story written by Robert Louis Stevenson. It tells the story of an odd scientist, Dr. Jekyll, who conducted strange, secret experiments in his house. These experiments produced great concern, even fear, among Dr. Jekyll’s neighbors and friends and even threatened the doctor’s own life. As a result of the research he conducted in his laboratory, Jekyll-a well-respected doctor-was enabled to transform himself into a man totally unlike himself: snarling, skulking, sinister.

It may surprise you to learn that you can do the same in a laboratory of your own. No, you don’t call 1-800-B-A-GHOUL. You can’t buy your own home laboratory on any infomercial. You don’t need to; your home is already a laboratory. It’s a moral laboratory, in which you can learn to make right choices and develop strong moral character or in which you can learn to make wrong choices and deaden your conscience.

In fact, your home and family is a virtual hothouse for growing strong moral convictions, like a greenhouse grows carnations.

When your parents are having a tough day, what better opportunity is there to practice doing good to others? When your sister screams at you for walking in front of the TV, what better environment is there to practice patience? When your brother feeds the last piece of your birthday cake to the dog, what better chance will you have to practice mercy?

The problem is, of course, that most of us tend to think that our own homes are the last places on earth where we need to be respectful and patient and merciful-we save all that good stuff for our friends. But home is the laboratory where we should be learning to make right choices and do the right thing. If we can start getting it right in our own families, we’ll be a lot more likely to make the right choice when we’re out in the world-when we have to face an impossible teacher, a girlfriend or boyfriend who wants to get physical, or a friend who’s trying to tempt us to do wrong.

They say that “practice makes perfect.” And the perfect place to practice doing right-being patient, being respectful, being loving, being merciful-is at home.

REFLECT: Are you most like the good Dr. Jekyll or the sinister Mr. Hyde when you’re home? When you’re away from home? Think of one way you can put your religion into practice in your family this week. Make plans to practice that behavior each day this week.

PRAY: “Father, it’s hard to do the right thing at home when___________.  Help me as I practice right behavior this week.”


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