The Battle To Do Good and Right
The Battle To Do Good and Right
Although we are in a war with Satan and his demons, and though we live in a fallen world where perversity and injustice are the norm, for followers of Jesus Christ, the battle to do good and right ultimately comes down to an internal struggle. With God living in us, we long to be the lights in this world that He has called and empowered us to be. But the fact of the matter is, in each and every moment, in each and every struggle, we have to make a decision about how we will think, what we desire, what we say and the things that we do.
Victory is not found in good intentions. Although God is pleased when we make right and good decisions based on the truth of His Word, God is glorified when we follow through on those decisions. We must live out our faith!
We know what God expects. We desire to please and honor Him. But our flesh (that part of us that rebels against God) is the final obstacle to living out His perfect plans for us. In Romans Chapter 7, the Apostle Paul shares very openly about his struggles with the flesh.
- Romans 7:18-19 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. 19 For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.
And when it comes down to how we treat other people, if we are faithful to our duty to share the love of Christ with others, it comes down to our attitudes and our works.
Attitudes – How followers of Jesus are meant to think.
- Philippians 2:3-4 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
- Ephesians 4:32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.
Works – What followers of Jesus were made to do.
- Ephesians 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
- Titus 2:14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.
Working together, our attitudes and our works are meant to express the love of God to everyone we encounter.
- Mark 12:29-31 Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. 31 And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
This is all well and good in theory; but what about practical application in our daily lives? Jesus didn’t beat around the bush – He made this very real and personal for each person who professes faith in Him. Here are a few powerful examples Jesus gave as documented in the Gospel of Matthew.
- Matthew 5:43-44 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,
- Matthew 6:14-15 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
- Matthew 25:34-36 Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’
We have been called and commanded to emulate God’s character. We are His ambassadors on earth.
- Ephesians 5:1 Therefore be imitators of God as dear children.
- Luke 6:35-36 But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. 36 Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.
- 2 Corinthians 5:20 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.
But how; how can we actually do this? Our spirits are willing, but our flesh is so weak.
- Matthew 26:40-41 Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “What! Could you not watch with Me one hour? 41 Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
The power of God’s Holy Spirit lives in us. When we surrender ourselves to Him and obey His Word, we win the battle to do good and right.
- John 14:23 Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.
- John 15:5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.
- Acts 1:8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
- Romans 8:5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.
- Galatians 5:22-25 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. 24 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
As Christians, we are called to be like God. We are called to extend grace and to show mercy. It is easy to love the loveable, to forgive the repentant, to give to victims, to right what we see as wrongs – that feels so good and we are so proud of ourselves when we do it.
But what about when we think someone doesn’t deserve what we have worked so hard for? The battle with the flesh begins with thoughts like:
- ‘She hasn’t made good decisions; she needs to learn from her mistakes.’
- ‘I’ve worked hard for what I have; he needs to get a job.’
- ‘I’m only supposed to help those who are willing to help themselves.’
- ‘We don’t want to be enablers.’
- And so on...
If God had used this type of ‘logic’ with us, we would be headed straight to hell!
- Ephesians 2:4-5 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),
Imitate God, forgive, don’t judge the heart of man, etc., so…
- Matthew 5:45-47 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so?
Father God, Your Word, Your Spirit and our circumstances all reveal the battle to do good and right that rages within. Please dear Lord, guide us, help us, strengthen us to fulfill your commandment to love others as we love ourselves. Help us to generous and kind, not stingy and judgmental. You have set the example and have provided all we need. I pray that those who have given themselves completely to You will honor You by truly loving others; the loveable and the ones that we may not see that way. I praise You and pray to You in the name above every name, Jesus Christ. Amen.