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.

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