“Very truly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise.”

—John 5:19–20

WHAT OUGHT WE TO DO?

Each day we have to make decisions with multiple paths we can take, some right and some wrong. At these crossroads we are confronted with which path we ought to take. In the world of ethics, the critical word is “ought.” Essentially, when we are confronted with a difficult situation, our mind asks us, What ought I do? It can be a simple question, like Should I hold the door for the other person? Should I stop and help a person in distress, even though I have a lot of errands to run? Or on a different scale, we are confronted with Should I tell my boss or the CEO that what my company is doing is wrong? I see a manufacturing defect that no one will notice, should I tell someone? Each day we are confronted with these questions repeatedly. Each day we must make these personal decisions. Each day our lives are a class on ethics. What ought we to do?

“Being bold in our faith leads us to do what God would have us do.”

Beyond the ethics of doing the right thing, we must also show faith by having the courage to do the right thing. If we truly believe and have faith in the unseen, then we will not hesitate to do those “right” things, even if doing so might put us at some personal risk. Being bold in our faith leads us to do what God would have us do. A faith that if we choose a path for the right reasons, we have done “what we ought to do.”

When we bring Jesus into our thought process, ethics turn into Christian ethics. We then begin to ask, “What would Jesus do?” Sounds simple, but it is not. Competing with what Jesus would do is our natural selves. We need to pay our bills. We need to earn a living in order to do that. We want our worldly needs satisfied. Sometimes these needs will conflict with what Jesus would have us do.

I know a woman named Beth, who was homeless and fighting hard to regain her footing, so she could raise her child in a home like she saw other mothers do. She worked at a local Dunkin’ Donuts in a job that sometimes had her scraping gum off the bottom of the tables. Her boss was abusive and ranted at her throughout her shift. Each day she went back to her shelter with a little more money to get her freedom. On the Christmas Eve of her one-year journey in homelessness she left work and found a woman in the parking lot who was in need. It was a dark, rainy night, and the woman had not recently eaten and was rummaging in the trash bin behind the store. With what she had earned in tips that day, Beth took the woman into Dunkin’ Donuts and bought her a meal. She sat with the woman and listened to her story. On that rainy Christmas Eve, she drove back to her shelter wondering if she had done enough for the woman.

Beth eventually got an apartment and left her job, to work at a better place. The next fall she was able to put her child on a school bus for her first day of school. She was able to go to a job where she was respected. She continued to wonder if she had done enough on that Christmas Eve.

“We should walk on our path of faith, to explore the length and breadth of our inheritance. An inheritance that will lead us to the right answer.”

Deciding what we ought to do seems complicated, but Jesus gives us a simple blueprint when he says, “but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise.” Regardless of our natural circumstances, Jesus tells us to act in a manner that we envision how God would act. He asks us to act without fear of loss, but through our hearts. We should not overly ponder the event, but to let our knowledge of God through our heart tell us what we “ought” to do. We should walk on our path of faith, to explore the length and breadth of our inheritance. An inheritance that will lead us to the right answer.

Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman

Leave a Reply