Knowing and Doing What Is Right

A few years ago there was a story in USA Today about a woman in Texas who received a sizable check from the Veteran's Administration. The check was not made out to her, she did not know the person to whom the check was made out, nor had she ever been in the military.

She put it back outside for the postman to pick up on his next round. Five days later she got it back in a different envelope. She telephoned the V.A. office in her district and was directed to send the check there. She did so, and one week later she received it back, in the same envelope. Next, she mailed it to the Treasury Department office in Kansas City, where the check was originally issued, along with a certified letter advising them that it did not belong to her and that she did not know the person to whom it had been issued. The check was returned to her in a different envelope.

Next she took it to the local postmaster. After explaining the situation to him, he advised her to give it to him, and he would return it to the Veteran's Administration. Two weeks later she received the check again. She was then instructed to mail it to Waco. It returned yet again. After the seventh delivery she called the Dallas V.A. branch and was told they didn't know what else they could do.

Finally, she called the Secret Service office and told one of their agents that she intended to destroy the check. He informed her that to destroy the check would be against the law because it was government property. She told him she would then cash it, but he answered that she could not keep it either, because it wasn't hers! At the time the newspaper story was written, the woman was awaiting further instructions.

Folks, sometimes life can be complicated! This story reminds us it is not always easy to know what the right thing to do is, and when we do know, it is often difficult to do it. This doesn’t mean we should give up, however. In 1 Corinthians 10:13, the Lord gives this promise to all believers in Jesus: “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful, He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”

Friends, God has promised to help us do the right thing, even when we are tempted to do what is wrong. He doesn’t, however, promise there will be an obvious path that allows us to resist and escape the temptation. Sometimes we will have to spend time and energy seeking to discern how we can do the right thing. Nor does He promise that the path leading us away from sin will be an easy one. Often it is hard work to do what is right. What God does promise is that if we trust Him, no matter what situation we face, He will enable us to know what the right thing to do is and will give us the strength to do it. Most importantly, even when we fail to do what is right, we still have this promise from the Lord: “If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
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Dan Erickson