REV. LOU TISCIONE
“Do what is right” are strong words. They are words that most people long to hear from their leaders. We expect those in whom we’ve placed our trust to lead will do what is right. Popular virtue has been assigned to those who say, “I will do what I think is right!”
Whether or not one thinks an action is right is, in my mind, irrelevant. We should expect our leaders to do what is right!
Here is the problem: in order to do what is right, one must know what is right.
The Christian’s conscience is continually formed by the word of God. Paul wrote to the church in Corinth that the believer is to take every thought captive to the word of Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5) Romans 12:2 is an exhortation to Christians not to be conformed to the world, but to be transformed by the renewal of the mind. The result is: “That by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Ephesians 5:11 points out that Christians were once in darkness but are now “light in the Lord.” Therefore, believers are to live as children of light, that is, to follow Jesus. Disciples of Jesus Christ are told that the “fruit” of living as children of light is “found in all that is good and right and true.”
Knowing what is good, right and true is only possible through God’s transformation. He has promised to change those whom He calls, regenerates and justifies. He does it by His word and Spirit. In other words, doing what is right requires humble submission to the word of God in the power of the Holy Spirit.
That which is right proceeds from the attributes of God. He has revealed Himself as good, righteous and true. Those who seek to do what is right are in an intimate relationship with God. This intimacy is only possible by knowing Jesus, God’s only Son. As the Father is the source, knowing the “good” proceeds from intimacy with Him.
Doing the right thing is wise living. Wise living follows the way of blessing. God said the way of blessing was to obey Him. Conversely, He warned that a cursed life would follow the one who disobeyed Him. I have yet to meet someone who wanted to live a cursed life. Yet, by ignorance or avoidance of God’s word, we head towards destruction. Don’t be fooled by following someone who commits to do what he thinks is right. First, know yourself what is right. Then do it.
Whereas God is the one working in a believer to do what is right, the believer is not an idle bystander. Christians live responding to the spirit of God acting in them. God’s method to progressively change His people is the systematic, intense study of the Bible and the theology which proceeds from it. God’s method is not only a personal one, but He has called His people to grow corporately. Each local church is accountable before God to “teach what is in accordance with sound doctrine.” (Titus 2:1)
The Apostle Paul addressed the barrier to growth in knowing what is right. (2 Timothy) Paul wrote that people would be “lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.”
Paul was describing the visible church corrupted by those who only looked godly; those who sought to “tickle” men’s ears. He gave a timeless answer to the problem. Paul’s answer then was for Timothy to continue in what he learned and firmly believed. Paul reminded Timothy that all scripture was breathed out by God and it’s the scriptures that are able to make the believer “competent and equipped for every good work.” God’s answer remains the same. The visible church is the place to grow in, knowing what is right as she faithfully teaches the scriptures.
May every local church be a place where that which is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely and commendable be taught an applied. And, by God’s grace may Christians will be seen as a people who do what is right for the glory of God.
Rev. Lou Tiscione is pastor of Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA).