It is so much easier to do the right thing if our percentages for a positive outcome increase. For example, drinking and driving leads to a much greater chance of an accident…succumbing to a fit of anger leads to strife within your family…stealing could lead to an arrest and jail time.
But…it gets a little harder to do the right thing when the percentages for a positive outcome look a little fuzzy…or even downright nonexistent. What happens then? When you have a friend who is living in sin, do you confront them in love, like the Bible tells us to? Or what about a child who says they will “hate” you if you don’t let them do “X”? Do you stand up for what’s right, even in the face of that heart-breaking statement?
You see, when we choose to do what’s right, we do not always have instant gratification. We do not always see the benefit of that right away. And, frankly, sometimes we never see the benefits.
Many, many years ago, I watched someone confront someone about something that was sinful in their life. It was done with love and grace. But it didn’t really matter…because that person’s heart was hard. And the relationship between them was affected permanently. To my knowledge, it was never restored. So, did the person who did the confronting do the right thing? Yep. Did they have a positive outcome? Nope.
But sometimes you just have to wait for awhile to see the positive outcome. Like, take me, for instance. I have written in journals since I was in 6th grade. One day, while dealing with my own teenagers, I decided to read over what I had written as a teenager. What I found there was surprising. I did not remember the anger…true anger…I felt towards my parents when I was not allowed to do certain things. The anger was shocking! But here I was, 30+ years later, and it had all faded. The only feeling that was left in me was deep appreciation and a grateful heart for my parents’ solid commitment to be obedient to the Lord above all.
So often we find ourselves caving in to the “possible outcomes” instead of doing the right thing. We think through all of the possibilities. And then we grow scared. And we do nothing. But, in the long run, we pay. That friendship you are guarding will grow weaker as you and your friend travel in different directions. That child, who is crying out for boundaries (no matter what their mouth is saying), will often walk away from God, figuring it just doesn’t matter.
But not everything needs a conversation, either. After much experience, I have learned to speak up with much more hesitation and discernment. Let’s be honest–some things…many things…are not worthy to be confronted. And many people who are outside your intimate circle have no interest in listening to you (unless you are their pastor or another spiritual leader). We need to be wise!
If we determine that we need to take the step for a conversation, here are a few other questions to ask that are helpful: Is the sin I see habitual? Is the person committing the sin truly committed to the Lord? Will this sin destroy their life if they continue on in this path?
Doing the right thing is not always easy. In fact, it is often the opposite. But we need to strive to do the right thing in all circumstances. Not just when we can rely on positive results. Easier said than done.
2 Thessalonians 3:13 But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary in doing good. 14 And if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed. 15 Yet do not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.