Life seems pretty tense right now, hey?

Want to join me in taking a deep breath and just thinking?

I’ve been slowly strolling my way through Proverbs recently, and Proverbs 11 can be summed up with this one really hard question.

We’ll answer it when we’re eight years old, when we’re 18, 28, even 78.

You find it in these keywords, interspersed throughout the text, repeated in a dozen principles:

Goodness and integrityUpright.

It can sometimes be a hard thing to lean in to. When the chips are down and you’re struggling because you didn’t study for that test. Or your biggest competitor seems to keep on one-upping you in the sports arena or the business world. 

At some point in life we will arrive at this point where we have to ask ourselves this question: 

Am I going to do the right thing because it’s the right thing, or am I going to do the thing that will get the results I want?

The Message version puts some of these situations into context like this:
(all from Proverbs 11)

God hates cheating in the marketplace;
    he loves it when business is aboveboard.

A woman of gentle grace gets respect,
    but men of rough violence grab for loot.

When you’re kind to others, you help yourself;
    when you’re cruel to others, you hurt yourself.

Bad work gets paid with a bad check;
    good work gets solid pay.

The Word is very consistent on this point: There is an inherent and intrinsic value in choosing goodness. The good way, the good path, the right thing.

This doesn’t mean we will ultimately get the guy or we will eventually one-up that business foe. It doesn’t mean we will win a race against that competitor that we know is doping and just hasn’t gotten caught yet.

What it means is: The choices we make with our lives matter to God. And He wants us to choose well. If we only focus on the short game, we will probably want to take shortcuts to get ahead. But when we focus on the big picture and remember that the race we’re running is not a sprint, but a marathon, we might begin to trust:

Count on this: The wicked won’t get off scot-free,
    and God’s loyal people will triumph. {Proverbs 11:21, MSG}

People like to talk about cosmic justice or karma — but perhaps we’d be better off saying the God who created the Universe is intimately acquainted with His Creation. He loves goodness, and He loves justice. He cares about what happens. He cares about how people treat each other. 

When we least expect it, it seems we can be sideswiped by a complex situation, but when we pull all the puzzle pieces apart and lay them out on the kitchen table, it still is, at the core that one simple question we have to answer for ourselves: 

Am I going to do the right thing because it’s the right thing, or am I going to do the thing that will get the results I want?

While our nation is in turmoil, and so many hearts are in an uproar, what can we do to make a positive difference? We can show kindness. We can listen. We can pray. We can keep on showing up, keep on listening for the voice of the Holy Spirit and regardless of the outcome, keep on doing the right thing.

We may not have all the answers… let’s be honest, we don’t. But we believe in a God who does.

Let’s keep showing love, listening, and being kind.

P.S. If you are new around here, I’d love to welcome you to subscribe for a weekly deep breath and a slice of encouragement. I’ll send you my latest little ebook, Ten Simple Way to Share Your Faith With Your Kids. You can sign up and grab that right here.

Extra encouragement from this week’s Insta-inspiration…

Are we friends on Instagram? This week I shared some words about what we see
when we look at a photo (like the one above) and what’s really true.
I’d love to share and connect with you there.