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Why Do the Right Thing When No One Else Does?
Not long ago, I was stuck in a traffic jam on the freeway caused by a horrific accident (I found out later there was one fatality). I could not believe the rude and dangerous behavior of those who were stuck. As soon as an extra lane opened, it was like a feeding frenzy in a pool of sharks. Horns were honking and hand gestures were flying until a truck rammed into a car trying to get ahead of him.
I was able to get around the second accident and be on my way, but the others behind were not as fortunate. Later that same day, I was in a crowded shopping center waiting for a car to pull out so I could take their parking space. I had my blinker on and my wheel slightly turned. Once the car pulled out, another car came barreling from around the corner and attempted to swoop in and steal the space. Unbelievable!
Once I was in the store, I encountered more rude behavior when I heard yelling coming from the check-out. A man was angry at the store clerk for God knows what.
I’m sure you have witnessed incidents like I have described because it seems to have become the “norm” in our culture. It makes us ask if common courtesy is a thing of the past.
But how do we show courtesy and even kindness when faced with rudeness—especially when anger is bubbling up and what we really want is to lash out?
And furthermore, why do the right thing when it seems NO ONE else does the right thing?
First, let’s discuss the why and then we will get to the how.
Why We Do the Right Thing
We do the right thing because of Jesus. It’s that simple. Even though He is God’s son, He gave His life on the cross for me and for you—while we were still sinners. Think about that for a minute.
That guy at work who is definitely not a Christian and who you think is a jerk—Christ died for him. Even though the guy doesn’t deserve it. Think of the worst person. Maybe Hitler or Charles Manson or someone else came to your mind. Christ died for them too.
The Bible tells us in Romans 3:20 “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.”
Now, imagine if Jesus decided not to pay the penalty for our sins even though none of us deserved it. But He did. And because He did, we are eternally free from the penalty of sin.
What should our response be to such grace?
GRATITUDE and LOVE.
How do we show God our gratitude and love?
Jesus makes it very clear in Matthew 22:37-40. “Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. ‘The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”
We do the right thing because Jesus did the right thing and His actions demand that we, as Christians also do the right thing.
How to Do the Right Thing
Even as Christ-followers, we still struggle with our sin nature. Therefore, we need the ever-present help of the Holy Spirit. But this takes submission of our will to His will. Here are a few steps we can follow.
Ask God to help us have an attitude like Christ.
“You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges, he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.”
Repent and Get Rid of Our Sinful Attitudes and Actions
There is no room for us to have Christ’s attitude when our sinful one is in the way.
“So, get rid of all evil behavior. Be done with all deceit, hypocrisy, jealousy, and all unkind speech.” 1 Peter 2:1
Ask to be Filled with the Fruit of the Holy Spirit
“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!” Galatians 5:22-23
“May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:11
“Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit,” Ephesians 5:18.
In the original Greek, “be filled” means “keep on being filled constantly and continually.
Hold on To the Progress You’ve Made
We must stay close to the Lord through his word and prayer every day or we are liable to fall back into old patterns of satisfying ourselves.
“But we must hold on to the progress we have already made.” Philippians 3:16
“So, you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then.” 1 Peter 1:14
For the fruit of the Holy Spirit to continue to grow in us, we must make room for Him by getting rid of the weeds of sin and nailing them to the cross daily. Keep short accounts
“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there.” Galatians 5:24
Remember Who Our Battle is Really With
Even though other people make us angry by their selfish and rude behavior, our battle is not with them. Our battle is with the enemy.
“A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:10-12
Repeat steps 1-6 every day. Spiritual salvation is a free and one time gift because of Jesus. Spiritual growth, however, is continual until we are at home with Jesus.
Spiritual muscles will grow weak and flabby without daily strengthening.
“Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” Philippians 2:12-13
“But keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me…” Philippians 4:9
My friends, the best way to represent Christ is to live a surrendered life. When we show people kindness when they don’t deserve it, when we help someone who has hurt us, when we are honest even when others are not, and when we show forgiveness—this speaks volumes. This is the way of the cross. This points people to Jesus more than a sermon.
Is it easy? No. Is it worth it?
Jesus thought so.