Don’t Regret Doing Right
Those who set their hearts on things like wealth, health, and earthly success, happiness, security, etc cannot live by faith and walk righteously before God. The following things which are said about the faithful in the Old Testament in Hebrews chapter 11 apply to everyone who ever has, and ever will, walk in a way that pleases God and prepares them to be heirs of salvation.
Hebrews 11:10, 13-16: “For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God… These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.” (Colossians 3:1-4 is more proof that is still true in the New Covenant).
Anyone who truly repents and surrenders to God through Jesus Christ is in fact declaring that they are willing to suffer for righteousness here and now, in order to inherit salvation and reign with Christ later. You cannot truly come to Christ without declaring from your heart that you welcome His reign, and therefore from the heart acknowledge His right to lead you in the paths of righteousness, whatever the consequences of that might be for you. You are entrusting yourself to Him as your King, your Shepherd, your Provider, etc whose authority, guidance, training, and care you are receiving- while laying down living by your own devices, seeking provision and happiness according to your own terms.
If you have not surrendered to Christ in that way to be ruled by His Word, and to hope in His promises, then you haven’t really had your own Waterloo with God (as was spoken of a few messages back). That is necessary for true repentance and belief in Christ (the only other option is eternal damnation).
There is actually such a thing as suffering related to being double-minded and unstable. Trying to be in God’s favor while still pleasing one’s flesh and being a friend of the world can be a torturous endeavor. But the remedy is obvious: Really surrender to God and be wholehearted to obey His Word and do right in His eyes. Never go back on pursuing anything that is right and true before God!
It can be truly said that when walking righteously leads a Christian into discomfort, rejection, great pain, great pressure, and/or other hardship that this is what they surrendered to and what they signed up for, when they repented and came to Christ. If someone’s heart wasn’t to give the Lamb who was slain glory by their life by following Him even unto suffering, and by cooperating with Him to mold them and purify them in whatever way He sees fit, then their controversy with God remains and they are yet in darkness, in their sins. Nevertheless, even the real Christian often needs to be reminded of what they practically signed up for in coming to Christ- since this can easily be forgotten in the hour of trial when the fire is burning hot and actually touching them. Here are a few examples of this from Scripture:
1 Thessalonians 3:1-5: “ Wherefore when we could no longer forbear, we thought it good to be left at Athens alone; And sent Timotheus, our brother, and minister of God, and our fellow-laborer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith: That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto. For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know. For this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter have tempted you, and our labor be in vain.”
1 Peter 2:19-25: “For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.”
It is normal for those who walk by faith and live righteously before God to encounter pains and/or perplexity and/or other hardships as a result of going the right way. It is one thing to know this in theory, but when it hits in truth, there is a natural tendency to want to get out of it and to be willing to compromise, or not go forward with, the truth they’ve been following, in order to get out of the suffering. In other words, there is a great temptation to regret doing right. And thinking straight and having the right attitude in such moments is necessary to resist this temptation.
I’ll mention here that the last message (Bearing the Yoke in Youth) has a lot to do with this. God will accept a person who is truly repentant before Him, no matter how poorly they’ve been conditioned or trained to live as a Christian up until that point. Yet poor training and/or flawed thinking could very well come back to bite them as they are confronted afterwards with Christian discipline and the trials of Christian suffering. An example would be if someone is used to gratifying themselves through drugs, alcohol, gluttony, entertainment, illicit sexual fulfillment, an inordinate emphasis on pleasing people, and/or other idolatries and vices then they will suffer particularly when stresses in doing righteousness, or in relation to doing righteousness, come to them. The outlets they are used to for relieving stress and/or discomfort are off-limits. They have a disadvantage to someone who has never had such poor conditioning, addictions, and/or bad habits. They will be especially tempted to somehow flee the suffering which righteousness before the God of the Bible demands of them. For example, maybe they will return to ungodly/unbiblical stances on certain issues to get back into the good graces of friends they lost or family members who won’t speak to them anymore. Perhaps they will lose patience due to not being able to have a good time with a crowd; and they will thus resort to joining an ungodly crowd in order to satisfy this urge in them. Or perhaps they will stop being hospitable and generous to fellow Christians and/or truly needy strangers who plead for their help because of how this interferes with one or many aspects of their life which they are not used to having to suffer hardship and/or loss in. Doing anything like this is essentially expressing regret for doing right.
Those without prior training in bearing physical pain, facing rejection from friends and/or family, facing the wrath of man in general, being alone without human comfort, having one’s reputation significantly damaged, bearing the burdens of others to a significant degree, financial hardship, working hard and/or long hours, going without much sleep, fasting, being in evident danger, not having anyone to understand, admire, and/or listen to them and other heavy yokes are going to especially be tempted to turn back from the Lord when being faithful to the Lord means enduring such things. It’s not that prior experience, or lack thereof, surely determines and guarantees what a Christian will do when confronted with these things. Yet we should recognize that many (or all) of these things (and probably more) will happen to someone eventually in following Christ. We should thus prepare in our minds and seek God for grace to handle them when we need to, with the understanding that the first time or the first few times in dealing with a given category of trial, will probably be excruciatingly painful and greatly tempt one to regret doing right. There is no way around having to face some or all of these obstacles, and probably others too, if we are to be faithful to Christ and endure in walking on the narrow road to His kingdom.
1 Peter 4:1-5: “Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries: Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you: Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead.”
One way to so arm oneself in the mind is to take to heart that bearing the reproach of Christ and facing hardship for His name’s sake not only ends in glory, but also protects those who bear it here and now too.
1 Peter 3:10-18: “For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it. For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil. And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good? But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ. For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing. For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit”
There is great protection in doing the will of God despite the suffering it brings. We can’t escape certain sufferings righteously, and we don’t have a right to make demands of God, yet that does not negate the fact that God’s ears are open to the prayers of the righteous and that He watches them with a special protective care.
Consider also the faithful men in Scripture. Joseph honored his father, gave his father a true report about his brothers (which was bad; he had to be honest), and was an overall rebuke to them by his own faithfulness in honoring his father and his conduct before God overall. He chose to go God’s way. Yet that got him sold into slavery. He yet chooses to go God’s way and he is faithful to his master as a slave. As a result, he gets promoted. He is then living in comfort and has a great measure of authority, in spite of being a slave. And then he gets falsely accused by a woman who had tried to seduce him and whose seduction he had utterly refused to entertain. He was utterly blameless; it was just wickedness by another person, an unjust master who heeded the false accuser, and bad luck which got him put in prison. What does Joseph do? The very thing he should have done! He didn’t blame God and he didn’t regret doing right. In the darkest situation he could have imagined he continued in God’s ways, even though doing that had at that point brought him into such a miserable situation. Even after someone he had helped, who had the ability to help him in return and get him out of prison failed him, he stayed steadfast. He was blessed eventually, in due time for obeying God and doing His will. But he didn’t focus on being exalted; he focused on doing right before God and trusting Him to work things out for him in His own way. And God came through. He never fails to come through. He can even hide Himself to make it seem like He failed for a time- and yet still come through in utter faithfulness! He is that powerful. Joseph didn’t even have a Bible like we do. Yet he did have the example of his faithful ancestors, particularly his great grandfather Abraham, who went through an incredible maze of trials and setbacks as he followed the Lord before he ever received God’s promise that was made explicitly to him (his own son Isaac, begat through his wife Sara).
What was the key to the mighty acts God did through Moses in relation to delivering the children of Israel from Egypt? People think of those when they think of Moses. Thinking a bit more, you might think of his regard for the children of Israel in their slavery and his delivering an oppressed, endangered Israelite from an abusive Egyptian oppressor (which some falsely label as murder, though it was righteously standing up for one in need). Yet there was a necessary ingredient to Moses’ righteous life which is easy to overlook. And that is the fact that he sought God wholeheartedly and kept His ways for his initial forty year tour in the wilderness, the forty years after he fled Egypt (not the forty years afterwards when he had delivered the Israelites from Egypt). It would have been easier then for him to have basically said “I was blessed and I was happy as a Prince in Egypt. Then I care about the afflicted and needy and really seek to help them. I thought that was right, but I only saved one life, the Egyptians turned against me, and even the Israelites don’t appreciate me. And now I am a poor shepherd living in discomfort and obscurity. What is the point?” Moses must have battled those thoughts constantly. Ten years go by, then twenty, then thirty, it seems like it will really never end until he dies. But this is said of Moses in Hebrews 11; and this matters more than all the miracles and great acts which were done through him. God would have never appeared to him through the burning bush and commissioned him to deliver the Israelites from Egypt without this.
Hebrews 11:24-26: “By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.”
And that is why he didn’t regret doing right- even when it was hurting him for a long time. And that is the foundational thing for everyone who pleased God in the Bible and endured in a living faith that worked righteousness before God unto the salvation of their soul- and that is true of everyone who ever has, and ever will, do the same. Christ’s narrow way, the way of obedient faith in Him, is the only road that saves from eternal damnation and delivers one to a blessed eternity in His kingdom. When that way is rough and troublesome, it is insanity to abandon it or stall. No, the thing to do is to stay on it and keep going forward! The very road that results in tribulation will in time lead those who stay the course out to the place they really had to get to eventually anyways. Don’t faint in pursuing this way!
Psalm 23: “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.”
Galatians 6:7-10: “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit (submits to and follows the Word of God- which the Holy Spirit inspired and calls people to obey) shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.”
Hosea 14:9: “Who is wise, and he shall understand these things? prudent, and he shall know them? for the ways of the Lord are right, and the just shall walk in them: but the transgressors shall fall therein.”
Hebrews 10:36-38: “For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.”
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