May 2, 2018

Do What's Right Because It Is Right

Does "doing what's right" always have a happy ending?

Sandra Blackmer

Repetition, many say, is the key to recall. This proves true for me with a sermon I heard some decades ago. All I actually remember about the sermon is one sentence: “Do what’s right because it is right, and leave the consequences with the Lord.” The presenter repeated this phrase incessantly throughout the message, and although the numerous repetitions seemed irksome, I have never forgotten it.

Stories abound of unexpected rewards for “doing what is right” when it doesn’t seem personally advantageous to do so. Harman Singh in South Auckland, New Zealand, for instance, was brought to tears by a magnanimous gesture by a local news station following an act of kindness. Even though the wearing of a turban in public is mandatory for Sikhs, Singh removed his turban to place it under the head of a bleeding 6-year-old lying on the road after being hit by a car. The news team that later interviewed him in his home about the incident noticed that his furniture consisted of a few plastic chairs and a mattress on the floor. Singh was shocked when soon after, a van full of new furniture showed up at his door—thanks to the news station and a local furniture store.

But does “doing what’s right” always have a happy ending? Sadly, no. Loss of family, friends, funds, and freedom can sometimes be the result of standing firm for the right. One of the more extreme examples is the story of sixteenth-century Anabaptist Dirk Willem. Imprisoned in his hometown of Asperen, Netherlands, for his faith, and condemned to die, Willem escaped by sliding down the prison wall using a rope made of strips of cloth. He made it safely across a nearby pond that was only thinly frozen over, but the guard who was chasing him fell through the ice. Willem ran back and saved him—thus losing his chance of escape. On May 16, 1569, he was burned to death at the stake.

Doing what’s right can obviously come at great cost, so the questions are: What would
I do under such circumstances? What would you do? And how can we ensure that when the time comes to make life-altering decisions we will do what’s right, no matter the consequences?

I can think of only two ways. First, by God’s grace, we choose to do what’s right in our small, daily decisions, so the Lord can prepare us to make the right choices with more significant judgments. And second—and more important—we must keep our eyes continuously on Jesus, who paid the greatest consequences possible for doing what He decided was right for all humankind.

In other words—as with all things—our answers and strength lie only in Jesus.


Sandra Blackmer is an assistant editor of Adventist Review.