I got teased yesterday for doing the right thing.
Last week I bought a box of cookies at Trader Joe’s but realized when I got home that I hadn’t been charged for them. So last night, while I was there picking up the second load of three gallons of milk to finish out the week (we have teenagers), I took a box of the cookies to the checkout and said, “I need you to charge me for these, but I’m not taking them home,” and I explained.
The guy bagging my stuff shifted his head back a few inches as his eyebrows shot up. He kind of snorted and said, “You’ve been losing sleep, huh?” As if a $2.99 box of cookies wasn’t worth the trouble I was taking.
I just smiled and shrugged.
At the end of the transaction, as the cashier handed me my receipt, the bagger barbed me again: “There,” he said. “Now you can sleep at night.”
“I’ve been sleeping just fine,” I told him. “Because I knew I was coming back to take care of this.”
At one time that would’ve chapped my hide, getting wisecracked for being honest. Because honestly, I would’ve expected a little admiration and appreciation for my obviously superior virtue.
But the last couple of years have knocked me around in that regard. I’ve witnessed some shockingly unethical behavior among people I once admired and respected. And I’ve spent a lot of time in what I guess was a dark night of the soul, not because I questioned God’s being or his goodness, but because I’d been so thrown off my game by man’s badness. I struggled to believe there was any real point in trying to walk out my own morals, since it seemed like hardly anyone else does.
After one more head-shaking hypocrisy came across my radar recently, I slumped into my chair prior to dawn one morning and asked heaven yet again: “What is the point?”
I don’t know why it took me two years to arrive back at the very beginning of Jesus Christ 101, but here’s what I ended up with on a piece of scrap paper that day:
1. Is my life bringing glory to God?
2. Are my relationships bringing glory to God?
3. Have my words brought glory to God?
4. Do my choices bring glory to God?
5. Am I pointing other people toward God?
And I had my answer.
That’s how I live even when others don't. That’s how I live even when I’m thrown under the bus for doing the right thing. That’s how I live even when the rest of the world is burning and drinking gasoline and screaming because it’s hot. That’s how I live when trust and honor and wisdom feel like something I just dreamed about once.
And because that’s how I live, it’s not about what my friends or my enemies or my husband or my kids or a bagger at the grocery thinks of me. It’s between me and God, period.
I don’t need any rewards for doing the right thing, and it doesn’t matter if I get punished for it either.
God’s opinion is all that matters.
That is the whole point.
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