Doing Right

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It is not as easy to do right or apply truth (once you know what it is) as some simplistic minds may believe. We must be cautious about simplistic thinking in Christianity because even in Christianity, we know the right thing to do, what of it? It can’t always be applied.

An example of this is a theory of John Maynard Keynes, the economist. He gave us a theory, which I suggest you examine but it seems correct to me, that in bad times, the government borrows to get itself through. It certainly borrows if the people are to be degraded and debased because of the government’s inability to supply needs, not wants, but needs. Then after the government borrows, the government later on when things are more prosperous will pay the borrowed money back. This sounds fine. This sounds good. This sounds simple. Unfortunately most of the time it doesn’t work. Very hard to apply.

Why? Because politicians controlling government, once they have found the way out is to borrow money to supply government services, generally do not pay the loan back. Instead the politicians  become intoxicated with the joy of borrowing, so instead they tend to borrow more money. This freshly borrowed money can then go to the increasing and spreading out of further services that will help them in getting elected again. So instead of a round (borrow, pay back) they substitute steps (borrow, then borrow, then borrow some more) ever going higher on borrowed money that will serve to get them ever         re-elected. The debt is put off over and over and it mounts.

We should not throw stones at the politicians for this. Politicians are simply human nature in exaggerated form. The ones lacking all the vagaries of human nature may throw stones. It is much easier to borrow than to pay back. Borrowing makes a politician a temporary big cheese and, if a politician, enables him and other politicians to vote things that get them re-elected. Paying back makes them appear stingy. Stingy is a bad trait at election time. Similar situations as this appear many times in many circumstances, not just in politics.

The Apostle said that he knew what he ought to do but he did not do it. I suggest we might paraphrase that to: we may know what ought to be done, but it may not be applied for a variety of reasons, one of  them being original sin. That is simply the human condition that we have to live with and not be bitter about.

We must consider what is right, then how much can be done. If we cannot be realistic about this, we are not driving the car but just spinning the wheels. Some use original sin as an excuse to do nothing, but that is laziness and being cynical. Being cynical is different from being realistic, because usually a realist can do a little something if he tries, but a cynic does nothing so that not even an attempt is made. The sincere attempt after thinking the situation out is what justifies. But have some daring and creativity in your attempts. Say, “this we will do if God permits.” (Hebrews 6: 3 RSV) Then you may tell afterwards, “What was wrong was a lot, but we managed with Christ to do a little.” That is Christianity.

So do not be bitter about human nature. Yes, it is devious, but there is an immature child in all of us. We make things worse when we let childishness get through to us whether in ourselves or others. Human  nature is something we have to live with. What is needed is an amused correction, even of ourselves by ourselves, rather than losing our spiritual balance. If when I am a child, I rage at myself, what good does  that do?. But if when I am childish, I laugh at myself and grow up a little more regardless of age, that is better and far more pleasing to God..  


Dr. James MacLeod may be contacted through the Neill Macaulay Foundation.