Doing The Right Thing

Why do we do that which is right? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I’ve noticed something a lot more recently that shows that we’ve become a society that looks to consequences to see if a decision is right. For instance, I’m a gameshow junkie. When my wife is done watching something and says “Turn on what you want” I inevitably go to the Game Show Network. Now let’s suppose we’re watching a game of chance on there, such as Catch 21, which is built around an idea of Black Jack. I don’t need to go into the details, but in the final round, the winner can choose to wager what he has that he will get 21 on up to three different hands of cards. If he ever busts, he loses everything. When he decides to walk away, the host will still say “Well let’s see what would have happened?” I don’t blame them for that. We all want to see that, but if a bust comes, it is told “You made the right decision.”

Maybe, but is that why?

Yesterday I commented on a post by Sheila Wray Gregoire on her blog, To Love, Honor, and Vacuum which my wife introduced me to. In it, I put up a link from the Family Feud which happens to be a favorite one. You can watch it here:

Now if you’re somewhere where you can’t watch that right now, the host Steve Harvey is asking the question about what 100 married men said in response to this. “I would blank for sex.” This is one that usually gets me cheering and the men for the most part, get it right every time. The women give answers like “cook” and “clean.” When Sheila posted it on Facebook you had women saying “Well if he cooked and cleaned, I’d be more likely to have sex.”

Is this doing the right thing?

What do these both have in common? They all appeal to consequences. They don’t look at the action itself. They just look at the result.

Let’s suppose in the above example, the guy could have had the cards drawn and walked away with the grand prize and won all the money. Does that mean he made the right decision if he kept going? Not necessarily. After all, it could have been the odds were stacked majorly majorly against him. He made a decision that happened to have a good result, but it was a random fluke. In fact, it could be he made the right decision by stopping because that was a wise decision. He could have won about $5,000 already and it would have been foolish to put the rest on the line because of a slim chance.

Or how about what I described above from the women? Now don’t get me wrong. I am not saying a husband should not help around the house if he can by cooking and cleaning. (Of course, if the former requires visits from the health and/or fire department, that could be an exception.) Still, let’s suppose he doesn’t do that. Does that mean the wife can say “Well I’m not going to do what I should do for you because you’re not doing for me what you should do for me?” The sad thing is many a husband could say in response “Well why should I cook and clean for you if you’re not willing to have sex with me?”

In fact, both the husband and wife are being selfish in this case. It’s saying “I will do what I should do for you if you will do what I want first.” It’s also got sex being used as a weapon, which should never happen in marriage. Instead, only one question needs to be asked. “What is the right thing to do?” If you know the right thing to do, do it. James in the Bible holds no punches. If you know the good you ought to do and don’t do it, you sin.

When we do this, we could say “I’d do the right thing, but what if XYZ?” What if indeed? So what either way. Are you saying “If it will not work out for me, then I will do the wrong thing? If so, then you are not really interested in doing the right thing but in doing that which you want to do.

And let’s be blunt, we all struggle with this. We all look out for ourselves. Lately, my wife has been wanting me to trust her more in the swimming pool. I am hydrophobic and I really get what I think is a localized PTSD when I get in the water. All the rationality goes out the window. I know the right thing to do is trust her, but then I think “What if I fall?” “What if an accident happens?” What if. What if. What if. Now to be sure, these are possibilities, but on one level, they’re also stupid. Am I to think that if something happened to me in the water and I went under that Allie would just stand there and say “Well it was a good marriage while it lasted. Time to go home and get on Christian Mingle.” No. Even if she didn’t do anything, there are several other people around who could and would do something.

Now of course, that doesn’t mean a fear gets bulldozed over. As it stands, I’m taking little steps right now to face my fear, such as when I get a shower I’m spending some time just soaking my face not for the purposes of cleaning, but for the purposes of getting used to it. A generous friend has also ordered me a face mask of sorts to help with my fear.

If there is a legitimate struggle and fear blocking you doing the right thing, I advise just keeping in your mind to do the right thing and make that your goal. If you want to do that which is right, pray and ask God to help. If instead it’s more a case of “You do X for me and maybe I’ll do Y for you” then you simply need to repent. That’s not the attitude to have. That’s only doing the right thing if it works out for you, which is ultimately selfish.

Consequences are a part of our actions and sometimes doing the right thing will not work out well, but it is still the right thing to do. If you want to know what excuse there is for not doing the right thing, bluntly, there isn’t. There can be reasons for not doing the right thing, but reasons are not justifications. When we stand before God, there will be no excuse for any time we’ve done the wrong thing. Of course, there are sins of ignorance and such, but the question is not over where we generally are unsure about the right thing to do, but when we know the right thing and come up with an excuse to do not do it.

Today, I recommend you start examining your life. What are you doing? Why are you doing it? What are you looking out for the most?

In Christ,
Nick Peters