When its Wrong
To Do the Right Thing
We will go up to the place the LORD promised...
(Numbers / Bemidbar 14:40).
portion includes the story of the exploration of the Promised Land by
twelve Israelites. Ten out of the twelve did not believe that the people
of Israel were able to take the land. Only two, Caleb and Joshua,
believed that God would enable them to do what he had promised. The ten
succeeded in discouraging the people. As a result God decreed that the
Israelites would wander in the wilderness for another 38 years until the
present generation would die out. The only ones who would enter the land
from the current generation would be Caleb and Joshua. In addition the
ten were struck down by a plague.
reported all this to the people they were saddened and admitted their
wrong. Having confessed their sin of unbelief, they now purposed to
enter the Land. The right thing at the wrong time!
said, "Why are you disobeying the LORD's command? This will not
succeed! Do not go up, because the LORD is not with you. You will be
defeated by your enemies, for the Amalekites and Canaanites will face
you there. Because you have turned away from the LORD, he will not be
with you and you will fall by the sword" (Numbers / Bemidbar
this warning, some of the people did it anyway:
in their presumption they went up toward the high hill country, though
neither Moses nor the ark of the LORD's covenant moved from the camp.
Then the Amalekites and Canaanites who lived in that hill country came
down and attacked them and beat them down all the way to Hormah (Numbers
/ Bemidbar 14:44, 45).
calls what they did presumption. The people thought they could figure
out the right thing to do based on what God had previously said. But
that no longer applied to their current situation. While it was God's
will for Israel to enter the Land, which they would do one day, due to
what just happened, God had other plans for the present.
the will of God apart from God himself is presumption. It is easy to
forget that God is a living being who calls us into relationship with
himself. We need to learn to daily depend on him, instead of laying down
our own rules for living.
find it so difficult to walk with God in this way, we tend toward
systems, which lay down guidelines to live by. These systems are often
in his name, yet they become barriers to true relationship with him.
Here are some examples.
important to note that none of theses are bad in themselves. It is when
they are disconnected from a vital, dynamic relationship with God that
they keep us from seeing him for who he is and hearing his voice.
Scriptures contain many helpful life principles, which are greatly
beneficial to us as individuals and to society at large. But instead of
depending on God for how to live, we can become committed to our own
understanding of the meaning of these principles. This commitment often
prevents from seeing how to properly apply his principles in different
times and places.
Doing the right thing
some are committed to doing the "right thing." Obviously there
is nothing wrong about doing what is right. But how do we know what is
truly right in a given situation. We are not God, who knows everything.
In all our own efforts, we still fail. Our righteous acts are imperfect,
no matter how hard we try or how sincere we are. Unless we learn to
depend on God, our right acts may be worthless.
Standing on the Bible
Bible-based life may sound good, but not if we separate the God-inspired
writings from the Author. It is easy to deduce the teaching of Scripture
into neat little man-made morals and rituals. The author of this Book is
alive. To depend on these writings without relying on its author is to
deny the writings we say we believe.
It is so
easy to confuse religious acts with following God There is no sufficient
amount of religious or spiritual acts that make up for knowing our
A life of service
life of good works is certainly honorable, yet like the other examples,
to focus one's life upon others without Godís leading is presumption.
We are not the savior of the human race. Any good we do is partial and
temporary. Only God can make a lasting difference in someoneís life.
How are we to know if we are doing the good we should be doing, if we
are the ones calling the shots? In our neglect of God we strive to do
good things, thinking that God will approve.
Follow your heart
that being true to one's own heart is true spirituality. But this
presupposes a personal spirituality, which is really pride. While God
desires to dwell within our hearts, how can we assume that God always
wants what we want? He is the Master of the Universe, who is bigger than
The right thing at the right time
are good in their place. If we put God first, then the good things
discussed above will result. Striving after them will not bring us to
God. On the contrary, we need God to lead us in these things. Only then
will they become life to us and to those around us.
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