The Right Thing
“So, what’s my reward?” he asked expectantly. “Well,” the reply came, “your reward is knowing you did the right thing.”
Have you ever had someone say that to you? Have you ever said that to someone else? Perhaps your kids?
While the sentiment sounds good, deep down hearing, “doing the right thing is its own reward” isn’t what we want. We would rather get something tangible for doing the right thing, but often we just get a nice saying to cherish.
The Hardest Thing
The Fray sang a song with the lyrics, “The hardest thing and the right thing are the same” which rings true. Doing the right thing can be hard. Sometimes doing the right thing means sacrifice of our comfort, resources, or energy.
On the other hand, the wrong thing can be easy. Parking in a handicapped parking space so we don’t have to walk as far to the store is easy, but if we are not handicapped, parking in that space is wrong. There are some who do anyway and, as long as they don’t get caught, could care less that they are doing the wrong thing.
Perhaps we have thought at one time or another, “What’s the point? I do the right thing and life still doesn’t work out. Where’s my reward for doing good? I guess that’s what they say…‘No good deed goes unpunished…’” When we gaze at those who care nothing for doing good or God, and it seems like they have all they could ever want…or at least all we could ever want, we wonder why we even try to do the right thing.
Now and Later
The Psalmist argues we shouldn’t be concerned, or envious about the prosperity, success, or advantages of wrongdoers because they will soon be forgotten. They only concern themselves with what they can get now. Whether it is cheating, disobeying laws, or living selfish lives, doing the wrong thing may work out now, but the Psalmist sets his gaze on the future.
The Psalmist encourages us to not be short-sighted. Yes, wrongdoers may have advantages now, but he writes, “they will soon fade like grass…” He knows that in the future, they will regret their actions.
The Psalm reminds us that those who trust in the Lord find security. Those who delight in the lord receive the desires of their heart. Since fulfillment of our desires may come at a later date, he encourages us to wait on the Lord in patience and to not fret over those who are prosperous. Ultimately, the godly are blessed, their children are blessings, and they will not be forgotten by God.
Often doing the right thing requires us to denying ourselves. Jesus talked about “listening” to his words which means obeying his words. Those who “listen” to Jesus’ words are those who put his words into practice. Jesus said that to follow him meant we would have to deny ourselves (Mark 8:34), which is a hard practice.
Jesus said, those who “listen” build their house on rock rather than the sinking sand of those who do not. Choosing to follow Jesus means difficulty and sacrifice in the present. We will have to move out of our comfort zone and do things we may not want to do. We may need to sacrifice our comfort, our resources, our time, and our energy, to fully embrace Jesus and his will.
Future-Proof Your Life
Talk of sacrifice and moving out of our comfort zone doesn’t sound very appealing, especially when we see those who throw caution to the wind and do whatever they want, even when their actions come at the expense of others. The Psalmist counsels us not to envy the prosperity of wrongdoers, or focus on our short-term losses and difficulties. No. Our faith reminds us that regardless of our current situation, our lives are future-proofed through the love of God revealed in Jesus.
The Psalmist knows that following God and doing the right thing, in the end, brings joy unspeakable, so he says with full confidence:
“It is better to be godly and have little than to be evil and rich. For the strength of the wicked will be shattered,but the Lord takes care of the godly.” (Psalm 37:16-17)
Our reward is more than “knowing we did the right thing.” Our reward is God himself revealed through Jesus, his love, presence, peace, security, joy, and blessings poured into our lives. You can future-proof your life as you embrace Jesus, looking to his provision rather than the prosperity of wrongdoing!