Sunday, October 2, 2016

Do What is Right

To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice. Proverbs 21:3

Have you ever started a project and then had to completely redo it? Mention painting to my husband and he can tell you a few stories. Like the time,  I hired painters to paint our kitchen a lovely shade of lime green and then had to hire a decorator to pick out a different color because it was so bad.  He still grimaces if painting our master bedroom comes up in a conversation.  When we moved into our new house, I chose a lovely shade of cream to put on our formerly teal bedroom walls, however once my husband had finished painting the walls, I realized I hated it. So back to the home repair store we went, two more gallons of paint and several more hours and my bedroom was a warm shade of tan, a much better color but not the coffee with cream I was hoping for however since my husband wasn’t willing to paint it a third time, it is the color on my walls to this day.   If I had picked the right color to begin with, it would have saved us conflict, time and money. In every part of life, doing what is right leads to blessings and saves us from heartbreak, wasted money and time. Though it can be hard to implement, it makes tough situations simple and leads less regrets and more joy.

“Do what is right” is a phrase has been knocking around my brain, getting louder and louder.  It is advice I give my kids when they are trying to decide how to spend their time- on video games or work, whether to listen to me or do what they want.  It helps me decide small things and big things.  It is the litmus test on what to eat, when to go to sleep, whether to make a comment, and what shows to watch or books to read.  It crosses my mind when I am tempted to speed, when I am on the tennis court and have to call a line, when the person in front of me drops twenty sheets of paper and I have to stop what I am doing to help them or when a cashier didn’t charge me for an item.  Do what is right.

Often though it seems like common sense, “Why wouldn’t I do what is right?” it still creates a struggle in my heart.  Help the person, go to bed on time, turn off the tv, click away and go exercise  but in any given situation, I find my inner self battling with my desire for things to be easy, entertaining and convenient.  The struggle is real. Do what is right.

I even find myself in situations like Cain when he was asked by God, “If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” Genesis 4:7   Though I am not about to kill anyone, the struggle to do what is right is one I face every day. I really hate going to sleep and strongly dislike exercising.  Romans 7:19 highlights this struggle when Paul writes, “For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.”  Why are we surprised by violence and conflict?  Proverbs 21:7 explains that “The violence of the wicked will drag them away, for they refuse to do what is right.” As I tell my kids, there are bad consequences when we chose not to do what is right.  Do what is right.

When I chose to do what is right, I hold on to the promises that if I do what is right, God will bless me.  Psalm 106:3 says “Blessed are those who act justly, who always do what is right.” Some of the blessings are intrinsic; like if I do the right thing and go to bed at a reasonable hour, I will enjoy my days so much more. If I chose to do the right thing and exercise, I will be healthier.  If I chose to not fill my mind with junk and negativity, I will have peace and contentment.  If I chose to forgive and not be bitter, I will be forgiven and mentally free.  Some blessings are harder to appreciate because they result in bad things not happening.  For instance, God said His people would not suffer the diseases He brought on others if they do what is right. In Exodus 15:26 “He said, “If you listen carefully to the LORD your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, who heals you.”” Google pictures of STDs if you want a reminder of the consequences of choosing not to do right regarding sex outside of marriage.  Doing what is right provides the ultimate protection. Some of the blessings of doing right take years in the making and ultimately bless our children and our grandchildren.  “Do what is right and good in the LORD's sight, so that it may go well with you and you may go in and take over the good land the LORD promised on oath to your ancestors” Deu 6:18  Your choices to do what is right create a template of blessing for future generations. Do what is right.

Our society is crying out for justice.  There are so many things that just don’t seem right.  Evil seems rampant and hearts our broken.   Interestingly, the Biblical response to suffering and injustice isn’t to get even because vengeance is the Lord’s to carry out. We are to do what is right because doing what is right and justice go hand in hand. Isaiah 56:1 says, “This is what the LORD says: “Maintain justice and do what is right, for my salvation is close at hand and my righteousness will soon be revealed.” The Book of Romans says a lot on this topic.  The early church in Rome was persecuted and harassed.  They were treated as second class citizens and executed for their beliefs.  In response, Paul wrote in Romans 12:17, “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.”  He continued in Romans 13:3, “For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended.”  Paul also wrote a similar message to the Corinthians in 2 Corinthians 8:21 “For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of man.”  Finally Peter sums up this idea in 2 Peter 2:20, “But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God.”  Don’t suffer for being foolish, evil or doing wrong. Even though doing what is right can lead to suffering, persecution and being misunderstood.  Do what is right.

As I was writing the chapter on Sarah in my Bible Study Embracing Change, Learning to Trust God from the Women of the Bible, I was struck by this verse about her from 1 Peter 3:6 “like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.” I realized that fear often keeps me from doing what is right.  I am afraid that I won’t get what I want, I am afraid that God won’t protect me or my children, I am afraid that God won’t provide… My fears drive behaviors that are the exact opposite of trusting God to provide, trusting God to protect me and my children, trusting that God will give me the desires of my heart. Even though I am afraid, I need to make the choice to not give in to fear.  Do what is right.

While doing what is right ultimately leads to blessings, in the moment, doing what is right is hard.  It can lead to suffering, it is inconvenient, it is uncomfortable, it means being different, it requires work, it doesn't always taste as good, it isn't cool and doesn't seem fun. 1 John 3:10 says, "This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God's child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister."  

This week I have a challenge for all of us- as you go about your day, say to yourself, "Do what is right."  I'll do the same. When you get up in the morning, remind yourself, "Do what is right;" as you talk to your kids and spouse, "Do what is right." As you drive in rush hour traffic, "Do what is right." As you check your friends' Facebook posts and Instagram pictures, "Do what is right."  As you eat your lunch and dinner, "Do what is right." As you chose how to spend your evening, "Do what is right."   Let me know how it goes. I'll do the same.

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