Sarah from Sarah Bee Creations reminded me the other day of a simple little mental tool I sometimes use to get my moral bearings.
Sarah was talking about the struggle to do the ‘right’ thing in the real world. How do you balance your faith with the demands of keeping your job so you can be responsible and pay the bills?
Talking about her husband, she said:
…he is constantly torn by the expectations of his position to sometimes sell things in an unethical manner in order to keep his job and his desire to care for his family. Is it ethical to walk away from your financial obligations if your means of meeting those obligations requires you to act in an unethical manner?
Please don’t think in any way that I am attacking Sarah or trying to belittle her faith. She has been very honest in writing about this and I wouldn’t write this to in any way attack her or her husband but rather, I want to use them to illustrate a struggle we all have.
I look at that statement above and it is perfectly clear to me what the answer is but, unfortunately, our human minds and hearts don’t think as clearly once we are knee-deep in a situation like this.
They need to pay the bills. Her husband has the weight of expectation from his family that there will be a roof over his head and food on the table next week – this is real and raw. It gets right down to our most basic instincts of protecting and caring for our loved ones.
What might seem clear to an outside observer seems very different to someone right in the thick of it with their family’s health and security on the line.
It’s at these time that I recommend the “What if God were standing there” test.
Let’s imagine for a moment that we are Sarah’s husband and we are faced with a situation where we are being asked to do something unethical – and we believe that it could cost us our job to not do what we’re being asked to do.
Now imagine that God strikes up a conversation:
“Are you going to do that?” Asks God.
“Umm, well, I know it’s wrong but I kind of HAVE to”, we reply.
“Why do you have to?”
“Because if I don’t, I’ll lose my job and I have a family to feed, clothe and house – and they’re relying on me!”
“Is doing this the right thing to do?”
“Well… No, not really but I figure it’s better to do something a little unethical and be able to continue to fulfil my financial obligations than lose my job and default on my loans.”
“So… you think that it is better to sin than to stay pure and holy and trust me to look after you? You think I’d rather you sin than have to rely on me for your needs?”
“Umm… well… when you put it THAT way…”
You see, when I turn and ask God his opinion, things become a lot easier and clearer. However, it still takes a lot of faith, obedience, trust and guts to follow through with doing the right thing!
There is a cost to following Jesus – and sometimes that cost can be very high. However high the cost is though, it never comes anywhere close to the price that Jesus paid to save us.
Yes, doing what the Holy Spirit tells us is right can sometimes mean that we lose out on some of the things of this world – but it’s worth it! God never promised that it would be easy and he never promised that we would have everything just the way we want it. In fact, Jesus told us quite the opposite:
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (emphasis mine)
Peter then reminds us of that saying:
Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. 1 Peter 4:12-16
Take the What if God Were Standing There test next time you have a tricky situation. Imagine that conversation with God and it may just help you to make the right choice. Maybe not the easy choice or the popular choice but the RIGHT one!