The Morality Molecule

“We love because he first loved us.”  1 John 4:19


I recently read an article about oxytocin.  This is a neurochemical that researchers are beginning to claim is the basis for morality in human beings.  Numerous tests have been done measuring oxytocin levels in different circumstances.  These tests indicate that when an individual is shown great trust, oxytocin levels rise and the individual displays greater trustworthiness. Likewise, when a person is shown great love or generosity, he/she becomes more loving or generous.  Therefore, the researchers conclude, morality must be a biological function.

There is another possible conclusion.  What if our biology was made to serve spiritual functions?  If God is our creator, and he is, then would it not make sense that he would design us for life with him?

Evidence of this is all over the Bible.

“…as the Lord has forgiven you, you must also forgive.” Colossians 3:13

“He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others.” 2 Corinthians 1:4

“And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.” Genesis 12:2

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” John 13:34

God has made us to know his love, his grace, his blessings toward us, then express love, grace, and blessing to those around us.   You see, the key to being more loving isn’t in trying to be more loving.  It is first in knowing ourselves as deeply loved.  If you would be a more forgiving person, seek with all your might to know yourself forgiven.

If we are ever to be a people who humbly spend our lives for the sake of the gospel and the precious souls of people, then we must first see and cherish the truth that Christ humbly spent his life for you and me, specifically and personally.  “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.  And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” Philippians 2:5-8.

We will become like that upon which we gaze.  If our sights are set on wealth, we will live for greed and consumption.  If our eyes are often turned toward sex, we will be consumed with its pursuit.  But, if we will fix our eyes on Jesus, if we swim in the depths of Scripture, we will see his character increasingly expressed in our attitudes and our actions.



Setting Your Mind’s Agenda

“Set your mind on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.”  Colossians 3:2


Have you ever bought something totally unique, only to see the same thing everywhere after your purchase?  There is a biological explanation for this phenomenon.

In the brain stem, there is a network of neurons that makes up the reticular activating system (RAS).  One of the primary functions of the RAS is to serve as a filter so that we are not overwhelmed by all of the sights, sounds, smells, and sensations that constantly bombard us.  The RAS filters out the stimuli that is unnecessary for functioning.  When we notice that “unique” product, the RAS no longer filters it out of our consciousness.  The filter is reset so that we are aware of what was around all along.  We begin to see the product everywhere.

We can use this filtering system to our spiritual advantage.  Each morning we can set our filters to see God at work all around us.  When we start our days in the Scriptures and in prayer, we become aware of God’s activity in our lives, and are much more likely to see his activity in the remainder of the day.

This isn’t merely an illustration.  In Psalm 5, David prays for deliverance from enemies, oppression and distraction.  In verse 3 he says, “O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.”  In the midst of difficulty and distraction, David begins his day seeking God, and spends the rest of the day watching for him.  He sets his filter for awareness of God’s activity.

Let your biology serve your spirituality.  Don’t let distractions hi-jack your mind when you awake.  Be proactive in setting the agenda for your thoughts each day.