I love talk radio; really, I love all forms of talking media: podcasts, AM radio, TED talks, sermons, audio books… I feel like I listen to more talking media than any other music lover I know. Now before anyone under 50 begins to mock me for this, let me tell you why. Its my mom’s fault. My mom was all about audio books (literally on cassette tape) and AM radio. We had a 30 minute ride to school everyday, and she used that time to listen to people talk. She still listens to sermons and audio books to this day.
One show she listened to everyday (or at least it seems that way looking back) was Dr. Laura. Hosted by Dr. Laura Schlessinger, this was essentially an advice column where people called in with questions, and she gave life advice. “My number is 1 (800) DRLAURA, that’s 1 (800) D-R-L-A-U-R-A. Susan, welcome to the program” still rings in my ears to this day. One thing she ended every show with though, that was far more profound than I ever gave it credit for was simply “now go do the right thing.”
I believe that doing the right thing is such an incredibly important step that is essential to living our purpose. I know, this seems like it does not need to even be stated, but the problem is that the obvious instructions are, often times, the ones we struggle with the most, because we assume we have them down. However, these are the ones that we often allow to slip through the cracks when we think about bigger problems and tasks to tackle. God thought this idea was so important that He put it in the Bible.
“So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”
My pastor, Dave Flaig, has something he says almost weekly in his sermons in regards to living a life for Christ. He says one way that we do this is by “doing the next right thing.” This seems like such a simple instruction, but I think it is something incredibly more difficult than many of us give it credit for. I think this is because we naturally think of saying the saying the next right thing, or thinking of the next right thing, as if good intentions and correct words are at all enough. We live in a world of comparison and putting your best foot forward, and this means often, we say the right thing, but do we truly do it?
When we simply say the right thing, but do not do it, we are, according to James 4, sinning. Our empty words actually separate us from God. They move us farther away from our creator. I understand that our lives are busy and that a constant focus on this is so hard. I want to make sure to say that, however, this cannot excuse our good, yet empty, intentions. In Matthew 23, Jesus’s first criticism of the religious leaders of that day, the Pharisees, was that they “preach, but do not practice.” Jesus was very intentional, and he built his argument against them on this premise. Sure, they would do the right thing, but only for an audience. Is this how people would describe us?
I have written a lot in the past year about purpose. I have talked about having vision for your life in Christ, and I have written that everyone has a role to play. While I still believe that God has a plan for you and that you have a role to play, I also sincerely believe we have overcomplicated God’s plan for us. Discovering and living your purpose is as simple as this: Remain and do the next right thing.
Colossians 3:17 says says this plainly:
“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
When we don’t know what to do for God, we need to cling closely to Him and we do the next right thing. Sure living your purpose may be more complex than this, involving your spiritual gifting, opportunity, audience, etc., but at the center of it all, it is this simple truth: You cannot live your purpose if you are not first seeking to do the next right thing.
So today, my challenge and encouragement is simply that: remain, and do the next right thing. This is going to look different for each of us, but my bet is that we all know what our next right thing to do is. If not, seek God, and He will show you the next right thing to do. My prayer is that my life is centered around these simple truths. May we be a people who always do the next right thing, even when it is hard.
Trust the process. Take your next step. Now is your moment.
2 thoughts on “Doing the Next Right Thing”
This is so helpful today, right now- I have been feeling stuck trying to find my life’s purpose, a job that is fulfilling, the right relationship, the right place to live, etc. and completely neglect doing the next right thing. Our lives are made moment to moment in our decisions to do the thing that God has for us in that day. Whether that’s cleaning your room, focusing at work, going for a run- anything other being paralyzed by thoughts of the future. Thanks, Phillip! Really thought-provoking and well written.
Thanks Brittany! I appreciate the encouragement. I totally agree. Our lives are a compilation of decisions and too often, our well intentions don’t turn into decisions. When we decide to walk in step with Jesus and do the right thing, we will find that we are exactly where we need to be.