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“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

THIS CHRISTMAS “WHAT OUGHT WE TO 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 that God will give us “A future with hope.”

The principal question of ethics is “What Ought we to do?” A simple question that when married with difficult situations can lead to complicated answers. Even simple answers to this question will lead people to have different answers.

When we bring Jesus into our thought process, ethics turn into Christian ethics. We then begin to ask, “What would Jesus do?” Again this sounds simple, but it is not. Competing with what Jesus would do is our natural selves. We have our own desires and needs. 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. Her principal question was had she done what she ought to do?

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 heal and free us.”

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 heal and free us.

Maybe this is the Christmas that we move our gift giving to doing what would Jesus do? Perhaps this is someone we know who needs a little extra help. Perhaps a piece of what we give, we give to a needy cause. This Christmas we will all have that moment when we have to decide, What ought we to do?

The answer is; What would Jesus do?

Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman

Photo by erin walker

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