Doing the Right Thing; December 9, 2020


2 Thessalonians 1:11 With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith.

In reading this chapter, I’ll confess my first reaction was to write on the comments about payback for those who work evil, since such people are very much in evidence these days, but I realize that wouldn’t be very edifying, either to me or to my readers. This verse, on the other hand, should be very comforting for everyone who is anxious about whether they have heard God right and are doing the right thing. Where the NIV says “every good purpose,” the Japanese says, “every desire that earnestly seeks good,” and they agree on “work of (prompted by) faith.” In other words, the desire to do God’s will is what is most important. Frankly, we don’t always get it right, but when we are focused on God, rather than on whether we will look good, He will work it out. As Paul wrote to the Philippians, we are to “not be anxious for anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present [our] requests to God, and the peace of God, which transcends all human understanding, will guard [our] hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7) Frankly, uptight Christians aren’t much fun to be around, and they don’t represent Christ very well. We certainly aren’t to play fast and loose with faith and grace, as some seem prone to do, but we are to rest in the assurance that “it is God who works in [us] to will and to act according to His good purpose.” (Philippians 2:13)

I have had my struggles with concerns over whether I was doing the right thing, but looking back over my life I can see that God has been incredibly faithful, even when I wasn’t. Among many other things, He guided me to my wife when I wasn’t very focused on Him at all! Among my Faith Declarations I have this one: “By the grace of God, each day I am doing His perfect will more completely in my life, for it is written, ‘For it is God who is at work in you both to will and to do according to His good pleasure.’” (I formulated my Faith Declarations a long time ago, when translations other than the NIV were more prominent in my memory.) As I deal with others as a pastor and counselor, this is a principle I try to impart to those who have faith. God does work in those who haven’t yet opened their hear to Him, but it’s not something I or they can rely on. For believers, the important thing is to get familiar with the Bible so that it will be easier and easier to distinguish the lying voices that try to lead us astray. Another of my Faith Declarations is, “By the grace of God, each day I am more accurately detecting and resisting Satan, for it is written ‘Resist the devil and he will flee from you.’” (Of course, that comes after one that speaks of hearing and obeying the Holy Spirit.) I certainly can’t say I have always done, or always do, the right thing in every situation, but God has taught me that I couldn’t do it in my own strength and wisdom in any case, so I’m to trust Him.

Father, this is a major issue that a lot of people struggle with. Help me share Your truth and grace in Your love, so that more and more people may walk in the joy of Your salvation, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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