Points To Ponder/“Doing The Harder Right”
by Pastor Dennis Whitmore
You’ve heard the old saying (and it is often true): “no good deed goes unpunished. ” How many times have you gone the extra mile to do, not just the good thing, but the best thing? One officer from West Point called it doing the “harder right.” It is expected of true leaders to make the decisions no one else will make. It is expected of God’s people that they will seek first the kingdom of God (the rule of God) and His standard of what is right (Matthew 6:33), and do it. No matter what it may cost in terms of reputation and worldly honor, or status, or in this world’s wealth, finding God’s will in a matter and dying to self to perform it is the step of a good person.
“The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way.” (Psalm 37:23 NKJV) Often times it will be that if the Lord is delighting in your way, a number of others will not. Expect it.
Remember that Jesus, God manifest in the flesh, was perfect and without sin. Yet it was the most religious, the so-called righteous ones in the world’s eyes, who hated Him. They called Him a drunk and a glutton, a friend of traitors and of the scum of the earth (See Matthew 11:19). But Jesus also pointed out that “wisdom is justified by her children.” In other words, what is right is proven by the results in the end.
In an earlier chapter of Matthew, He said, “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more will the call those of his household! Therefore do not fear them. For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known.” (Matthew 10:24-26 NKJV)
Even among your own colleagues and friends, going the righteous way on your part will sometimes reveal a darker side on theirs. You may be surprised at who stays with you and who becomes your adversary. God’s will in your life can divide friends and even family. The “harder right” is really hard. And what will you do when the sword of truth begins cutting deep?
Paul writing from prison says: “Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ.” (Philippians 1:27a NKJV emphasis mine)
To a minority of Christians in a house church surrounded by often hostile opposition, he says, “...stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God.” (Philippians 1:27a-28)
Jesus also warned that the time was coming “that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service. And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me” (John 16:3 NKJV)
Of course He’s speaking to the more immediate future circumstances the disciples and early church leaders would face; but the principle remains. A lot of unrighteous behavior goes on in the name of God. Sometimes it goes on among Christians within churches.
The question is, are you on the right side of the battle to which you are committed? The early church was persecuted by the leading clergy and prominent lay leaders of their time. The great teacher, Gamaliel, prophetically warned these religious leaders “...if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing; but if it is of God, you cannot over throw it - lest you even be found to fight against God.” (Acts 5:38b-39)
That’s a message those leaders did not want to hear, nor heed. Two thousand years of history proved Gamaliel’s words. Self-righteous arrogance dulled their hearing then just as it still does now.
Have you had your hearing checked? If the matter is of the Lord, the battle is His, not yours. But if not, the battle is yours. And you will lose. In that case, the “harder right” is to humbly repent and submit yourself to the Lord.
That’s especially hard for those whose standard of righteousness is themselves and their traditions. “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but he who heeds counsel is wise.” (Proverbs 12:15 NKJV)
In whose eyes are you right?
Pastor Whitmore serves God at The First United Methodist Church in Laurel, MD. Visit www.fumcl.org.