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Suffering for Doing Right

By Tim Hartzell

Last month I wrote an article about Joseph and how he overcame some very difficult temptations while serving as a slave in the house of Potiphar. Joseph did the right thing, even though he could have easily justified doing the wrong thing. The story can be found in Genesis 39.
In case you haven’t read the end of the story, it doesn’t turn out the way you would expect. For doing the right thing, Joseph loses his job and is thrown into prison.
Joseph must have been very confused. How is it that you lose your job and end up in prison for doing the right thing? Where’s the justice in that?
Have you ever faced a situation where doing the right thing would result in a negative outcome? Whether we recognize it or not, we face those quandaries on a daily basis.
I recently prayed with someone who lost their job because they wouldn’t misrepresent items on a report. When they spoke up about the situation, their reputation was smeared by lies that quickly spread through the company. They did the right thing – and then lost their reputation and their job because of it.
Many of us report all of our income and pay our taxes in full. But there are plenty of people out there who don’t. A few years back, a friend was bragging to me about all the money he was saving in taxes by being paid “under the table”. When I mentioned to him that his cheating was resulting in me paying higher taxes, he laughed it off. He then shared that he was also collecting unemployment benefits while working full time! To add insult to injury, he suggested I was stupid for playing by the rules. Some friend, huh?
We all know that there are plenty of liars and cheaters out there. They will misrepresent anything to look good, get ahead or make an extra buck. Frankly, it works. Liars and cheaters often enjoy greater amounts of income and prestige. Sure, on occasion we will read in the news about someone going to jail for fraud or tax evasion. But for every one that gets caught, thousands get away with it. The world is a mess, and sometimes it seems that we are completely surrounded by dishonesty.
Listen to Romans 1:28-32,
“Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.”
It is important that we understand this truth. If we believe that doing the right thing will always result in immediate blessing, then we will be sorely disappointed. We may even become angry with God or judgmental toward others.
The simple truth is this: If you do the right thing, you will likely suffer because of it - but only in the short term. As you suffer, you will need to wait upon the Lord, putting your hope and trust in Him. This is called worship.
Take a few minutes to Read Psalm 37. If you are someone who does the right thing, even if it may cause suffering, this passage will be of great comfort to you!
“The days of the blameless are known to the Lord, and their inheritance will endure forever.” Psalm 37:18
There’s more to say on this topic – see you next week!