SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON/Doing the Right Thing
Wednesday, August 14, 2013 1:00 AM
"In those days Israel had no king, so the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes." (Judges 17 - 6)
Is it just me or do you also grow weary of all those dinner-time telephone calls from politicians asking for donations to help them in the fight for right causes in Washington? I guess I had just reached my saturation point of such intrusions one evening. It's the only way I can justify my reaction to the unidentified, yet perky stranger on the line. I directed her attention to the fact that the Congressman for whom she spoke was a man I indeed had voted for in the last election but that I wasn't sure if I would be helping him get re-elected in the upcoming contest. Furthermore, I told her that I definitely had no interest in sending the Congressman additional funds (I think my actually words were - "I don't care to give him even a dime!) to assist him in his "fight for the right" when I was unconvinced that he had actually made full use of his time, place, and vote to do what was right in the current term. I think it was about that time that the line went dead.
Why is it so difficult for us simply to do what is Right? This isn't just a problem for our elected officials - but all of us. It seems that we have sunk into the same morass that ensnared ancient Israel where we not only have difficulty determining (at times) the right thing to do, but have come to the place where we are no longer convinced that a right thing, verses a wrong thing, even exists. In other words, much of our culture has rejected the notion that there actually is an absolute Right and Wrong. Therefore, each individual is left on his or her own to determine, in the midst of an ever-changing world, whatever seems or feels 'Right' at the moment.
If anything, there exists a crisis in this Country - one of personal integrity. It was the Church Father, Augustine of Hippo, who said; "Right is right even if no one is doing it; wrong is wrong even if everyone is doing it." Oh, if more of us believed likewise today! How much better things would be if more people were committed to doing what is Right - even if no one is looking - rather than looking to stretch the limits of what they can get away with without getting caught!
I was reading something and was reminded of a scene in the classic book, The Yearling, where one character, Penny Baxter, wished to get rid of a no account bear dog. So he set about to trick a neighbor into a deceptive trade. He did it by speaking disparagingly about his dog's hunting ability. Now, for men who normally loved to brag about their dogs, this was unusual indeed. But whenever he was asked, Penny would say - "Sorriest bear dog I ever . . . followered. He ain't wuth a good twist o't'bracy." Of course, this only convinced the neighbor to believe the exact opposite and soon he traded his good shotgun for the dog. Later, when his own son asked him about the deal, Penny admitted that his conscience was beginning to bother him a bit. "But, Pa, you told him the truth." "Yes," said Penny, "my words was straight, but my intention was as crooked as the Ocklawaha River."
You understand, don't you? It's so easy to deceive. It's such a simple thing to mislead. It is with great simplicity that we convince ourselves, at times, that whatever it is that we wish to do is 'Right' - in the moment - especially if no one finds out. But the Scriptures don't let us off so easily. God's Word teaches us plainly that there is a Right and a Wrong and that it isn't all that difficult to determine which is which -- which we are to do. Loving others is RIGHT! (Rom. 13 - 8) Forgiving others is RIGHT! (Eph 4 - 32) Showing sacred respect for human life is RIGHT! (Ex. 20 - 13) Honoring our father and mother is RIGHT! (Col 3 - 20) Showing respect toward our spouse by maintaining fidelity in the marriage is RIGHT! (1 Pet 3)
As for our elected officials, it shouldn't be that difficult for them to do the Right thing. Instead, they tip toe around the abortion issue -- or the immigration issue -- or the punishment of terrorist (like the Fort Hood shooter). Have they become as those addressed by the Prophet Amos who said, "My people have forgotten what it means to do right" says the Lord" (Amos 3 - 10)? And if so, then how sad it that?
I laughed at the political cartoon in a recent issue of World magazine which pictured Hillary Clinton standing before an official podium and acknowledging - "I did not have factual relations with the American people!" I laughed - but then I realized that it really wasn't all that funny. It's sad when our elected leaders and representatives lose sight of the Truth. It's sad when they wrap themselves in a covering of smugness and pride knowing full well that they have isolated themselves quite successfully from any direct ties to the evil for which they are responsible and that a blanket of plausible deniability covers their actions.
But what about the rest of us? -- Are we all any better? What of our own integrity and commitment to Truth and Right - when no one is looking? What of our own opposition to what is Wrong -- even if everyone else is doing it?
I wish this verse in Judges read differently. I wish it went as follows - "There was no king in Israel, but all the people did what was Right in the eyes of the Lord anyway." Where Israel failed, we still have the chance to succeed - to do the Right thing - because it is the Right thing to do!