Character is doing the right thing when nobody’s looking. There are too many people who think that the only thing that’s right is to get by, and the only thing that’s wrong is to get caught.
Doing the right thing is seldom doing the easy thing. That is a fact that few of you would dispute, I think. But how many of you have taken idea one step further, thinking about it this way. Doing the right thing is not always doing what is right. Now you might read that line and think, “but it should be”! I know I did until I thought about something.
Think about a home where a single parent of a young child drinks to excess. They even admit to having a problem with alcohol. Now this behavior has never endangered the child and it is obvious that the parent loves the child very much. The home is nice. The child has food, a bedroom of their own and enough clothes to stock a rack in a children’s clothing store. And, the child is loved!
Now knowing all of these things, should the child remain in the home? Can we trust that simply because the issue with alcohol has never created a dangerous situation for the child before, that it won’t ever? And what if the problem affecting the one is something more subtle like depression or other mental illness, rather than an overt issue of addiction? Is love for the child enough for someone to conquer their demons?
What would you do if you saw situations like the ones I have described? Not always an easy thing to decide, since what may be the right thing for the child most likely will not be the right thing for the parent! So now begins the herculean task of weighing both sides and trying to decide on the best course for EVERYONE involved!
We are faced with situations like this every day. Life is never all black or white. Life is, instead, about a million different shades of gray, even within our own family dynamic. But sadly, all too often we miss the signs that something is amiss until it becomes too late. After all, most of us are not trained in any aspect of mental health, which is the specialty that all of these difficulties fall into, one way or another. However, not acting when reasonable suspicions exist is not the answer, as I have discovered in recent months. And I can’t speak for others, but I would never want to know I could have done something and didn’t because it may not have been “politically correct” to do so or that I would be stepping on someone’s toes!
Acting on our beliefs is not just desirable, but essential, as well, especially if we are to build bridges, move mountains and make a difference. Falling back on the knowledge that we must trust where it is He is leading and what it is He is telling us to do is perhaps the single thing that will help us as we act! Yes, we may question or hesitate. After all, we understand that we are human. But if we remain saddled by the fears that our humanness hands us, we will never make a difference.
What if Peter had refused to even consider doing the Lord’s bidding when the He told him to climb out of the boat? What if Peter’s response had been, “No! I am not you. Water will not hold me!”? No, he at first trusted and the water held him until he gave it a second thought and the doubts crept in! And what happened? “But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” (Matthew 14:30 NIV)
Are we like Peter was….people of little faith who doubt? Or do we listen to that quiet voice that counsels us as to what is right? Our answer should be to heed the messages we are given. When we partake of a guilty pleasure, don’t you get that nagging feeling inside that you’ve committed a huge “whoops”? And then suddenly, before we even realize it is happening, regret settles in where satisfaction once stood!
Failure, by any other name, is still failure, whether we have failed ourselves or another. On the other hand, one who does that which is right, in God’s eyes and his own, even if it displeases others, will always find his cup full with the blessings of the Almighty! Colossians 3:23 NIV, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.”
And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen.
Matthew 21:21 ESV
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