This is what the Lord says: Do what is just and right.
Jeremiah 22:3a (NIV)
Doing the right thing is not always the easiest thing. It sounds so simple, but it is not. Like yesterday’s post, it sometimes requires surrender. I spent some time meditating on my life journey and the times I’ve had to make a willful decision to do the right thing.
I lost friendships because I chose to intervene and try to get my friends the help they needed rather than let them destroy themselves further. I still grieve the loss of those friendships.
I gave up multiple jobs because I refused to be a part of the corrupt or unjust things going on in the workplace. I’ve never regretted it.
As I meditate on those decisive moments, it strikes me that my decision was fairly simple because the circumstances were fairly black and white to me.
What’s less simple are the times when being a follower of Jesus has meant I had to forgive those who wronged me and choose grace instead of anger, judgment, retaliation, and resentment. If I’m honest, the hardest have perhaps been the times when doing the right thing meant surrendering my very strong personal will and self-centric desires in order for a greater good to flourish.
In today’s chapter, God sends Jeremiah to confront the kings of Judah. He begins by laying out what God expects of the King:
Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hand of the oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place.
Jeremiah then goes on to pick apart those who have inhabited the throne for “building the palace with injustice” and for setting their “eyes and heart on dishonest gain.”
It’s fairly easy for me to gloss over Jeremiah’s prophetic smack-down of kings who lived 2500 years ago, but then in the quiet this morning I thought about a message I gave just a couple of weeks ago. In that message I talked about my “sin” being simply my personal, willful indulgence of my base and self-centric appetites and desires. I used two kings from the works of Shakespeare as examples. I even wore a crown as I did so.
My grandfather used to say, “I’m king of this castle! And, I have my wife’s permission to say so.” All jokes aside, I am very much ruler of my heart, soul, mind, and strength. I can choose to rule my life with self-indulgence, chasing after dishonest gain, and seeking only my own personal desires. Or, I can surrender my crown and my will in order to love God and love others with my heart, soul, mind, and strength.
I enter this day which will be filled with a myriad of choices and decisions. I endeavor, O Lord, to consistently do what you ask of me: do the right thing.
If you know anyone who might be encouraged by today’s post, please share.