<strong>The Role of the Standards: </strong>The Oxford Group was a Christian movement that had a following in Europe and America in the 1920s and 30s. Moral standards of absolute honesty, purity, unselfishness, and love, though recognized as impossible to attain, were guidelines to help determine whether a course of action was directed by God. The 12 step program of recovery can trace its ideas of self-examination, acknowledgment of character defects, restitution for harm done and working with others straight to the Oxford Group, and these standards are reflected in the actions suggested by the practice of the principles of the steps.
<strong>First Standard: Honesty – </strong>The real virtue in honesty lies in the persistent and dedicated striving for it. <em>Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.</em> Genesis 3:7
We have been living a “double life” in which we present what we think others want to see (who we should be) while seeing who we really are as something “less than” (shame). In the effort to please others we continue to bury our self identity, to develop and maintain secrets about ourselves. As we build a false image of ourselves to impress and control others, our secrets get darker and go deeper behind this image of who we “should be” until the burden of this deceit becomes so heavy that it crushes us – we fall apart when we realize we are apart from God. We have actually created an idol – an image of who we should be – which is sin, and all sin is apart from God. <em>So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. </em>Genesis 1:27
Admission of our sin is the beginning of our healing. The next step is to accept the sacrifice that Christ made to restore us to the image God created. Only through this sacrifice can we hope to become that image, the image of God which may dwell with God for eternity. <em>… being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.</em> Philippians 1:6
When we believe what God did for us through Christ’s sacrifice, our faith in God’s love for us begins to grow. We ask the Holy Spirit to make us more like Christ and we follow His example of obedience to the Father by surrendering our thoughts and actions to Christ-like behaviors.
The search for truth is the noblest expression of the soul. We find the truth in God’s word. As we live by His word, we become more like Christ and we live seeking to please God instead of ourselves or others. This becomes who we really are, in His image.
<strong>Second Standard: Purity – </strong>Purity is defined as abstinence from vices and/or abundance of virtue. In purity, as in honesty, the virtue lies in our striving. And like seeking the truth, giving our all in its constant pursuit will make us free even though we may never quite catch up to it. Such pursuit is a thrilling and challenging journey and the journey is just as important as the destination, regardless of how slow it may seem. <em>Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God</em>. 2 Corinthians 7:1
Perceptions, motives, goals and actions must all change if we are to achieve and maintain any level of purity in our lives. Amazingly, as purity grows, these changes come about more rapidly and naturally, since our thoughts become focused on what is good and right.
<em>Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you</em>. James 1:21
Having discovered the errors in our perception of reality and the world about us, we also see the painful results of turning from God, painful to both us and those around us. As we strive for purity we also see the need for forgiveness and amends to others. <em>Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God</em>. Matthew 5:8
Our self examination and confessions to God and another have found the flaws of our past actions, and we discover that our willingness to release this flawed behavior allows us to make today and every day a new day. If we consider the peace that a pure conscience would bring us, and the help that it would bring to others, we would be more determined about our spiritual progress. Nowhere is this truer than in the rightness and decency of our life. If we have turned our will and our life over to God, purity will come to us in due course because God is good.
<strong>Third Standard: Love</strong> – Love is “giving of ourselves” and unless we do, our progress will be lost. When we offer love, we offer our life; are we prepared to give it? When someone offers us love, they offer their life; have we the grace to receive it? When love is offered, God is there; have we received Him? The will to love is God’s will.
<em>Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love</em>. 1 John 4:7-8
But the joy of receiving can never match the real thrill of giving. Love is a poor man’s beginning toward God. We receive understanding and love from strangers and we make progress as we in turn give it to new acquaintances. It’s as simple as that. We receive love from God and give it away so that we can receive more to give even more.
<em>But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.</em> Galatians 5:22-23
As His love flows through us, we bear the fruit of the Spirit as a witness to His Glory. We continue to set right past wrongs wherever possible to allow His love to work through us. It is through giving that we receive.
<em>“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. </em>John 3:16-17
And God commands us to love one another as He has loved us.
<em>And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.</em> – 1 Corinthians 13:13
<strong>Fourth Standard: Unselfishness – </strong>Our unselfishness must include not merely that which we do for others, but that which we do for ourselves. <em>We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God</em>. 2 Corinthians 5:20
We are helped on our long journey to unselfishness by our great mission of understanding, which includes more than just doing for others. We must be unselfish even in our pursuits of self-preservation. This includes all that we do, since much of our help to others comes through our own example. <em>Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God—even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.</em> – 1 Corinthians 10:32-33
We should ask ourselves “How will this affect the other fellow?” when considering what we are about to do, say, think or decide. Our motive should be to serve God by serving others.
<em>Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.</em> Philippians 2:3-4
When we strive for unselfishness, we are removed from fears of what others might think of us, our reputations, or our feelings by thinking of them instead of ourselves. In freely giving of ourselves we walk in the truth of God’s pure love for all of us. We are blessed in ever growing measure by His grace.
<strong>Overcomers Outreach</strong> uses the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and the Holy Bible to discover the wisdom of God and apply His teachings to our daily lives. We claim Jesus Christ as our “higher power” and share our trials and victories with one another in a confidential and secure environment. We meet weekly in loving support of one another, not as a substitute for, but rather a supplement to other 12 step groups. We are non-professional and non-profit, and we welcome anyone who is not opposed to our general method of recovery, whatever his or her presenting problem.
6528 Greenleaf Ave., Ste. 223
Whittier, CA 90601