Sunday, June 12, 2011

1000 Rights

When I was very young, a teacher told me the story about a righteous man, who has built schools for the poor, fed the starving, and helped the community grow. Everyone in that place knew about his kind heart and the good deeds that he has done for each person who has lived there at some point in time.

One morning after he has not slept the night before because he was working on a new school building project, and was really sleepy, while driving towards his office, he did not notice a woman coming out into the street. Caught by surprise, it was too late and he was unable to avoid hitting this woman. This woman fell to the ground and died a quick death. The man was then brought to the judge for his misdeed.

The judge, of course, knew all about this man, thus the question was, how to deal with him? Must he be punished for his carelessness? Or would his punishment be made lighter?

Back when I was young, I remembered hearing many responses from the class, most saying that he should not be punished, because he has helped the community and it was not intentional, some saying that he should be punished but make him receive a lighter punishment, considering all the good things he has done, while others like myself kept quiet because we did not know how to respond.

My teacher then said, the man was punished for his misdeed without lighter sentence, because the 1000 right things he has done do not make 1 wrong action right.

That was one lesson that stuck in me for the longest time. The consequences of a wrong must be paid for things to be made right, while doing the right things are our responsibility. The reward of doing the right things must not come from the possibility in getting an excuse to compromise with a mistake we may make in the future, but that intrinsic motivation that comes with seeing God's people progressing towards the good. This is perhaps why when we do things, we have to do them as though it is for God, and not for humans, thus we give our best to do the right things even when there seems to be no other worldly reward. The reward, then, will be that precious smile of God that one day we will see.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Crossing the Road

I was walking around today at my own leisure pace, for I was in no rush to get anywhere or to do anything. I was really just trying to hit my 10,000 steps a day (the global corporate challenge that my friend is making me participate in). I was also trying to stay outside my house as long as I could, since my house is filled with many stressors related to thesis-writing.

So often when I crossed the road, I would not even wait till the pedestrian sign turned green when the road is empty, especially on the smaller streets that make it a little safer to do that. And of course, everyone was doing it, so it would be weird if you wait till the sign turn green, actually. Plus, I was always in a hurry to get to a place, so I will always hit the crossing button multiple times, as though it would help turn the light green faster.

Today, however, I waited for the sign to turn green before crossing the street. This was true for all the streets I was crossing. People were crossing the road before me and it was weird at first, but slowly I felt a strange sense of liberation. The freedom to choose to wait until the sign turns green, the freedom to live as a responsible resident and pedestrian, the freedom to choose to act in a non-normative way.

I wonder if this was true in the Christian life. At first we seem to think that living or choosing to act in a certain non-normative way is weird or even limiting, but slowly we feel that freedom, because we are liberated from societal pressure to act in a certain manner, and so we can behave in a way that reflects integrity and wisdom instead.