Tuesday, April 12th, 2022
Whether we believe in God or not, we have an innate understanding of right and wrong. While that is evidence of God in and of itself, when we don’t root ourselves in God’s word, and understand God’s character as a result of it, it can be difficult to know what to do when a right-or-wrong decision comes to our doorstep. We often fall back on tried and true tenets of “goodness” such as generosity, kindness, and self-denial. But are those the things that make us right with God, or just good in the sight of other men? Are those the things that God delights in? Yes and no. It depends on the motives behind our generosity, kindness, and self-denial. Look to Genesis 32 and 33. Jacob is returning to his homeland after 20 years spent away because of fear of his brother Esau, from whom Jacob had taken his father’s blessing and inheritance. In fear, Jacob sends a massive gift to Esau, 500 animals in addition to servants who carry a message honoring Esau as his “Lord” – in effect, a large gesture of flattery, in hopes that Esau would see the gift, receive the honor (even if not given truthfully, because Jacob knew that he himself was the patriarch of the family, having received his father’s blessing), and would forgive him. When Jacob and Esau meet, to Jacob’s surprise, Esau is just confused as to why all these animals and servants were sent – he didn’t even recognize it as a gift! Why? Because unbeknownst to Jacob, Esau has already forgiven him. When Jacob sees that Esau has forgiven him, he realizes that no one but God could have orchestrated such forgiveness. Thus, he gives praise to God and insists that Esau keeps the gift – now, giving with the proper motives! This interaction is a picture of the Gospel. When we fear the wrath of God, we are apt to act in a way that we believe is good, showing kindness, generosity, and self-denial. However, what God actually wants is just our faith in Jesus, and to let these expressions of kindness, generosity, and self-denial come from a place of praise to Jesus rather than self-preservation or enrichment. The works of these large gifts apart from faith do nothing for our eternal soul. So, when we are faced with a decision in life as to what is right and wrong, we are not to make a calculation based on what will benefit us life, which the world considers “doing what is right.” We are to make a decision based on faith. By coming to a decision in faith we will do what is right in God’s eyes, with the right motives, and it will resonate in heaven. Today, if you are facing a right and wrong decision, turn away from what you hear the world telling you, and look to God for your answer – act in faith and praise to Jesus.
“Esau asked, “What’s the meaning of all these flocks and herds I met?”
“To find favor in your eyes, my lord,” he said.
But Esau said, “I already have plenty, my brother. Keep what you have for yourself.”
“No, please!” said Jacob. “If I have found favor in your eyes, accept this gift from me. For to see your face is like seeing the face of God, now that you have received me favorably. Please accept the present that was brought to you, for God has been gracious to me and I have all I need.” And because Jacob insisted, Esau accepted it.” – Genesis 33: 8-11