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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Be a "do gooder"

Mark Twain once quipped, "Do the right thing. It will gratify some people and astonish the rest." I think sometimes I do a pretty good job of astonishing myself with doing what is right instead of what I may have wanted to do! Why does doing the right thing sometimes just flow from us and then at other times it is so very, very hard? It might just be that the "right thing" is harder because we wanted something to be different - we thought we'd be on the receiving end, instead of the giving end, or maybe we believed the circumstances would have changed just a little the last time we "did the right thing", but found they pretty much remained the same. It can be difficult to do the right thing all of the time, but the more we get this right, the more of Jesus others will see in and through us.

9 We must not get tired of doing good. We will receive our harvest of eternal life at the right time. We must not give up. 10 When we have the opportunity to do good to anyone, we should do it. (Galatians 6:9-10 ERV)

Why would "doing good" tire us? Shouldn't it be exactly the opposite - giving us energy and "fuel" for the next thing we will be faced with in this life? Maybe it is because we are looking for a "return" in this lifetime. God doesn't promise us a "return" for doing good or what is right in this lifetime - but he does promise us a "return" in the lifetime we shall live with him into eternity. The inheritance that awaits us may not be fully realized now, but we can rest assured it is ours in Christ Jesus. There were times when Jesus got weary in doing good - he needed some downtime now and again to regain his physical strength, renewing his spiritual vigor, and launching again into what he knew was the "right thing" to do while on this earth.

"Doing good" has a lot of meanings. It ranges from making the right choices when it is hardest to make them, to knowing what it right and doing it even when others may not be doing the same thing. If we condition our choice to do right around what others are doing, we may find ourselves consistently struggling to do right! Others should not be our gauge by which we "measure" how well we are doing at "doing right". Christ should be that gauge. I am not very wise, but I am tapped into the one who is wisdom embodied! I may not be consistent, but I serve the one who does not waver or falter. I may not be always aware, but I live with the one who is all-knowing. That said, my choices may be inconsistent at times, but God is helping me (and you) to become as consistent as possible by always presenting us with new opportunities to reveal that consistency!

A little Bible passage jumps into my head on occasion, reminding me that if I know how to do good and then choose not to do so, I am choosing to sin. (see James 4:17) It usually "jumps in there" whenever I am about to walk past something I know I should respond to, or do something contrary to what I know is right. It happens when I want my own way and another is making demands on my time or energies that sometimes will "cut into" what I want. It also happens when I see something I should address and then just leave it be because I am too busy, tired, or unconcerned to actually deal with it then. It is amazing how one tiny scripture can influence our decisions, though. That reminder from God is often enough to "fix" my contrariness and turn me around to doing what is "right" rather than just continuing on my way. It may not seem like much, but I think God uses this scripture for me because he knows it will move me in the right direction. You may have such a passage, too. If you do, don't underestimate the power of God's Word in you to help or assist you in doing good at times when you may not possess the strength (or the "want to") to actually do it! Just sayin!