How to be a better Person #16


James, stepbrother to Jesus, told his readers to wait on the Lord before they ventured out into the business world. Yet, in the same context he wrote this, “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins” (James 4:13-17). How then do we balance what ought to be done and waiting on the Lord to tell us when to do it? What would the Lord himself say we ought to do? Here is the rude awakening of what Jesus expects of us. Doing good or what is right requires no waiting on the Lord, but intending to do what is questionable requires endless waiting on the Lord. “Blessed is the servant, whom his lord when he comes shall find so doing. Verily I say to you, that he shall make him ruler over all his goods” (Matthew 24:46-47).

Improving our lifestyle in an honest way is not an issue, but neglecting to do it or by manipulating others to do it is. The Bible does not endorse the idea that others must sweat for me (Genesis 3: 9). I am not building my life on solid ground by employing others to do what I am unwilling to do (Matthew 7:22). Surely, we need people that dispose of our waste, but do we make their job easier by not cleaning up after ourselves? Should the things we waste be wasted? Does the end justify the means we use to get us where we are going? The road that is good and right is marked clearly by Jesus (John 14:6). It is when we begin to add and innovate that the road gets broader and begins to branch out into directions that no longer let us do what needs doing. My wife and I were advised to stay on one main road that would lead us back to our subway station. But when we went into one of the many plazas, we got off the main road and needed someone to drive us back. In the midst of all the beautiful parks and buildings and streets of Wienna, we kept straying away from our destination. We got ourselves into that fix because we were not doing what needed doing.

The world has become a broad highway surrounded with splendid attractions that entices us to go out and get it. It does not tell us that there is a price tag with every turn that demands of us the things we do not have. It is at this point that we should wait heavily on the Lord and meditate long and hard before we continue to reach for vanity (Ecclesiastes 1:2). Retracing our steps is more difficult than going on. Rebuilding our life is burdensome but it is rewarding here on earth and in eternity. Those that think they gain the world have sold their soul like Faust to the devil. It is our body that the devil exalts and pleases. He knows that he cannot have our souls unless we choose to go with him. If the devil’s world is in any way similar to what he is doing to our human bodies, Jesus insisted that he does (Luke 13:16), then I prefer the world Jesus promised. The description Jesus gave of hell and where the broad road leads does not encourage waiting on the Lord but doing what needs doing (Matthew 13:50; 7:13-14).

Not doing what needs doing is the reason where we are. James said that we ought to look in a mirror and we shall see who and where we are (James 1:19-27; 2:14-26). His people were just the opposite from what we are. They were not willing to listen while we listen too much and too long. They were rash in their actions and slow in analyzing what they had done. Again, we analyze too much and act too little. Above all things, they expected God to do what they were supposed to do. In that sense we are similar. We, like them, believe that the Lord would make things better without our help. It did not happen to the people then and it shall not today. The two examples James used were doing what needed doing to improve their lives and conditions. Abraham the believer did not happen to sit beside the road where the Lord picked him up and transplanted him into Canaan. No, it was an arduous journey started by Abraham’s father. Rahab was a prostitute that did what was right by harboring and saving the Hebrew spies. She was rewarded for her deeds and it was based on her faith that the Hebrews would remember her kindness. Paul, regarding Abraham’s faith, adds a little extra. Abraham who was led for so many years and seen with his eyes that God blessed him, had a problem trusting God for an heir. He fell off his faith when he engaged Hagar that bore him Ishmael. When Isaac came along, Abraham had learned that God could replace the heir and Abraham no longer doubted what God could do. He was willing to give his son back to God and that was when Abraham’s faith had climaxed. He had done a lot of work and sweating to earn his righteousness (Romans 4). Yes, Abraham waited on the Lord but he also kept doing what had to be done.

None among us shall become a better person by expecting someone else to do it for us. This of course is the prevailing view that someone owes us. Governments and tyrants have taken from the haves and assisted the don’t haves, but only for as long as what they have confiscated lasted. Then chaos and revolution leave us dead or with nothing. I know this because I am from the world of the Nazis and the Soviets. I see it being repeated in the so called free world where the very wealthy protect their riches by making promises to their electorates that they would improve their lives by paying their bills and offering them free healthcare that depends totally on taxation. The recipients of these promises have stopped doing what needed to be done to save their own survival. Our deplorable situation has even had good people stop doing what needed to be done, like participating in voting and political decision-making, they instead are waiting for the Lord to remove them from this world before our systems collapse. That wishful thinking has not helped us in Germany, Poland, and Russia. What makes us think it shall be any different in America or Europe that ought to know what needs to be done? We are like the five foolish virgins that did not kept their lamps filled with oil when they could (Matthew 25:1-13). My physician’s orders at 82 were, “Do what needs doing.”