Wednesday, April 4, 2001

Don't Be Afraid to Do Right

Mid-Week Lenten 5
April 4, 2001 
1 Peter 3:10-12

"Don't Be Afraid To Do Right"
Seminarian Robert W. Armao

We have probably all thought at one time or another that our actions were being judged by others, observed, and evaluated, and focused in upon. We might be thinking at these times, "What will people say?"  Have you ever asked that question of yourself?  Have you ever been more concerned about the "proper thing to do" rather than making a decision based on Christian morals?  Has it ever come down to making a decision based on what you know is right verses doing something that you know full well is wrong?

Often times it is difficult for us to do the right thing.  We may place barriers and hurdles in front of our decisions, imagined criticism may get the best of us and damage our right intentions. In the end, instead of making what we believe to be a calculated move, we end up compromising our position to avoid the inevitable glare of discontent.  Certainly, we can say that not all matters are black and white, and we can convince ourselves that in time all things will work there way out. We are at a crossroads though, we know what we should do and simply don't follow through. We cut corners, and make decisions that seemingly are correct, but we know the truth. In our marriages, at school or on the job, these decisions are nothing more than our attempt at taking the more traveled road of ease than the less traveled one of commitment.

Pilate knew that road well, he was afraid to do right.  Thoughts of losing his job, or having a rebellion on his hand certainly must have come to mind when deciding the fate of Jesus.  He couldn't afford politically to have a riot on his hands, how would that look to his handlers back in Rome?  If word ever got back to Caesar that he couldn't maintain control and discipline within his province, then he would have certainly been removed.  And so, although he knew that Jesus was innocent, he gave him over to be crucified, to hang on the cross as a bloody example of how Pilate would rule, with fear.

Whatever it is that makes us afraid to do right, our text from Peter's first epistle, where Peter quotes from Psalm 34: 12-16, speaks encouragingly to us.  Peter is saying to us:  Don't be afraid to do right.

Peter would not leave us wondering what it meant to do the right thing.  He gave us principles to follow, guidelines that would assist us in our learning to do what is right.  The first principle Peter unfolds in v. 10b, where he mentions speaking truthfully.  I am sure we all know someone who we admire for their directness and honesty.  However, when we've been hurt, by words that we later learned are lies or are meant to deceive, we become suspicious and wonder, What is the truth?  Words should express what we really believe and feel to be found truthful.  We've all heard, don't speak out of both sides of your mouth, or you're speaking with a forked tongue.  No double talk for Christians should be the rule rather than the exception.

The second principle involves not words but actions. We need to put our words into deeds.  If we as adults are to be role models to our children or role models to others, then we have to place our actions in front of us.  Verse 11b indicates that we are expected to live in peace with not only ourselves but those around us as well.  To live at peace on the job, at home, in school means that we are suppose to make correct, moral decisions.  To forgive offenses, to offer up our time to assist those in need, and at all costs to constantly seek out peace within ourselves and within others.

Fear may still exist within us though.  The ideas of speaking the truth and following and creating a good example are all well and good on paper.  Yet, when it comes down to it, they may seem nothing more than idle words.

God has good things in store for us.  From the prophet Jeremiah (29:11) to Peter, in verse 10a we read that God has nothing but good intentions for our lives.  Our days can never be filled with joy when our consciences are burdened or weighed down by Satan's darts of guilt.  As v. 16 tells us, we are to keep our consciences clear.  There is a certain satisfaction one gets from doing what is right, in knowing that you have done the best job possible.  Verse 14 suggests that even if we live in suffering or are persecuted, we can delight in the fact that we have done what is right.

Ridicule, being made fun of at school is not an easy topic to broach, I am sure as adults we have all said to our children, that's just the way some kids are, try to ignore that, or move on with your life, show them you are stronger than what they think.  As much as we might try to shield the young from persecution or ridicule, these days act to develop a maturity. A mature Christian is one who recognizes and tries to live out these principles.

We may fear doing what is right, such behavior may not be the "in thing"  of our day and age, yet, the advantage of growth and spiritual learning far outshines the alternatives of making the wrong decision, one that might cost us more ridicule than we ever imagined.

God supports us, he looks favorably upon His creation, verse 12a brings this idea to us.  Regardless of what the world may think of us, we are righteous before God.  Because of Christ's death we were made righteous, we were placed into the heavenly family when we were welcomed by the waters of Holy Baptism, washed clean of our sin, and made righteous in God's sight.  For Christ's sake He sees our actions as righteous. 

Our efforts to pursue what is right, might appear weak and fragile, but to God, they are fearless attempts at being of service to Him.  Matthew 10: 42 speaks to this...the peace-making act that we might have thought little of is beautiful in God's eyes.

There is support out there. Yes, we may feel abandoned by our fellow man from time to time, but Christ promised never to leave us. The familiar hymn, "What A Friend We Have In Jesus," rings especially true today.  He shed His blood, so that we would not have to, he gave up His life for each of us, He suffered the ridicule that we all deserved.  How can we find this friend?  He is here with us this evening, open your scripture, read his comforting words, partake of His sacraments, and then you will be standing with your eternal friend.

God's favor is upon us and our response to it gives us the boldness to pursue what is right.

In a world where wrongdoing seems so often to be rewarded and praised, remember, do what is right!  We need not fear the consequences or the ridicule, God's son laid that to rest at Calvary. The resurrection has been granted to us, due to Christ's obedience of doing what was right. Our gracious God is here tonight, ready to support us, so that we might be moving in the right direction. As the hymn speaks to us, Onward then, ye Christian Soldiers.  AMEN!

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