- Eldon Peterson
Why is doing right so hard?
Have you ever asked, “Why is it so hard to do what is right?” I know I have. I doesn’t seem fair that the right choice should be the hardest? Shouldn’t doing what is right be easy? I can’t answer the question of fairness, but it does raise the question about why we think that doing right should be easy.
Albus Dumbledore, a J.K. Rowling character in the Harry Potter novels observes, “Dark times lie ahead of us and there will be a time when we must choose between what is easy and what is right.” It seems that each day we must face the choice between what is easy and what is right.
The question of choosing between easy and right came to my mind as I sought to properly dispose of the fluorescent light tubes left over from our church’s changeover to new energy efficient lights. I had over 200 old useless fluorescent tubes to dispose of. The easy choice would be to put them in our dumpster. No one would know – quick and easy. However, I knew that we were not allowed to do this – at least in that large of a quantity. So, I took them to the recycling center at the Logan Landfill.
When I arrived I was told that they were prevented by federal law to take any more that 16 per day. This would mean that I would need to make about a dozen trips to the landfill to properly dispose of these fluorescent lamps. Putting them in the dumpster began to look a lot more attractive causing me to wonder, “Why should doing what is right be so arduous?”
However, my question begs an equally important follow-up question, “Why should doing right be easy?” We might reason that if doing what was right was easy then we would be inclined to do right more often. Possibly, but I would be doing right because it was easy not because it was right. Can you see the difference? By default, we naturally follow the path of least resistance; it requires conviction to go against the flow.
As a follower of Christ I am called to be guided by conviction not ease. Which dominates your thinking; what is right or what is easy? And if it is what is easy, how can I begin to make the right choice rather than the easy choice? The answer is found in seeing challenges as opportunities rather than obstacles.
Seeing my trials as a friend rather than an enemy allows me to understand James’ words, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4) If we let it, the obstacles we face to make the right choice will make us strong, mature, complete, not lacking anything.
There are no shortcuts to righteousness. To dispose of the lamps in the dumpster would remove the inconvenience, but my duplicity weakens the hope I confess in Christ. Paul’s choice to do what was right resulted in him being beaten, stoned, shipwrecked and imprisoned. He could have chosen an easier way, but he chose to do what was right trusting in the Lord not what was convenient.
So, if given the choice, what will we choose between what is easy and what is right. Are you willing to be inconvenienced in the small things? If not, then we must realize what our actions are testifying. Remember what Jesus said, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” (Luke 16:10)
Rarely will we choose to do what is wrong because we do not know the right thing to do. Rather, we choose wrong because it is easier than what is right. However, James warns, “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” (James 4:17) There are no insignificant wrong choices. If you lack the courage to choose right, “Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Hebrews 12:3) The easy choice for Jesus would have been to not go to the cross. However, only by going to the cross, to bare our sins, was he able to give eternal life to all who believe.