Bella Vista Church of Christ



L. Scott Gage

Fayetteville AR




“Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.

He who says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments,

is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word,

truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him.

He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.”

1 John 2:3-6


  The word “ought” indicates that there is some standard by which my actions and motives are being judged. Many people do not like this word, and they reject the idea that there is an absolute standard by which we are measured. These same people would be horrified if they went to the local market and the butcher told them what he had cut “looked like about a pound of ham.” They would insist that the butcher put the ham on the scale and measure it by the standard, and then they would pay based on how things measured up to the standard.


  In order to think clearly about ourselves and the universe we live in, C. S. Lewis states that we must be firmly established on two points: “These, then, are the two points I want to make...


  First, that human beings, all over the earth, have this curious idea that they ought to behave in a certain way, and cannot really get rid of it.


  Secondly, that they do not in fact behave in that way. They know the Law of Nature; they break it.


  These two facts are the foundation of all clear thinking about ourselves and the universe we live in.” (Mere Christianity, page 7)  As we look around the world today, it is obvious that we need to repair our foundation so that we can think clearly and act responsibly.


  It might be helpful to us to consider a few passages of scripture that contain this word “ought.”


“In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:10-11).


“Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart…” (Luke 18:1).


“If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet” (John 13:14).


“We who are strong ought to bear with the shortcomings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up” (Romans 15:1-2).


“Come now, you who say,‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit’;  whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.’  But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil” (James 4:13-16).


L. Scott Gage

Fayetteville AR