On Doing the “Right” Thing.

I was listening (quite against my will, mind you) to my daughter’s music. One song spoke of obeying God and avoiding Satan because, “everything he says is a lie.” Good practice (after all, I do want her to obey God and avoid Satan), but not necessarily good theology.

Unfortunately, much of the difficulty of maturing as a disciple of Christ is recognizing that not all that Satan says is an obvious lie. After all, he masquerades as an angel of light. The temptations which hinder our growth, and which so frequently interfere with our pleasing God, often are a mixture of truth and falsehood, or a distortion of the truth. Taking joy in created things becomes idolatry and greed; frustration at the sin of others becomes self-righteousness; love becomes lust and coveting; the desire to do things well becomes the pursuit of self-aggrandizement.

Very infrequently are we confronted by the choice between right and wrong. Very early in our Christian lives we become aware of what is wrong and develop a natural aversion to it. Unfortunately, we rarely are forced to make choices between what is godly and what is wicked. That choice is easy for most Christians to recognize and to act upon accordingly.

No, usually we are faced with choices between what is morally right and what is wise or Christian. While many choices may be right, the Christian’s responsibility is to determine what is best, true, wise, and what pleases God. While there may be nothingmorally wrong with going out to dinner, or visiting one friend over another, or choosing to write a letter or not, or watching a certain TV program, choosing to do so may not be the wise and Christian choice.

I’m glad that my children are learning to do what is right and to shun evil. But the task of leading them to Christian maturity goes far beyond “right and wrong.” Ultimately, they must be trained to look for, embrace, and pursue what is Christian – and that is a far bigger task than training one simply to be “good.”

Henry Knapp is the associate pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Beaver, PA.  He lives with his wife Kelly in Beaver, PA.  They two children.


First Presbyterian Church is an Evangelical Presbyterian Church located in Beaver, PA.  They have four worship services on campus, two that are more traditional and two that are more blended contemporary.  They have active ministries for all ages.