Doing What is Right…
Sometimes, you have to do something just because it’s the right thing to do:
“Therefore, it is necessary to be subject not only because of the wrath but also because of conscience. This is why you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. Pay to all their dues, taxes to whom taxes are due, toll to whom toll is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due.” -Romans 13:5-7, NAB
The focus of today’s verse is in the context of our relationship with authorities, but this simple truth goes beyond that. Our actions should not simply be caused by our avoidance of wrath, whether it is the government’s or God’s, but because it is simply the right thing to do.
Don’t pay your taxes in fear of an audit; pay them because it is the right thing to do. Don’t show someone respect out of fear of being punished; show respect because that person is in a position that deserves it. And, do not falsely show honor to someone for any reason; give honor where honor is due. Regardless of what you are being called to do, leave fear out of it and do what you know is right.
Compared to the rest of society, doing the right thing simply because it is the right thing may be what separates us from the rest of the crowd. In a society where people are taught to indulge in their every desire, even when it may cost or hurt someone else, we stand out by our choices. When we deny ourselves for the sake of someone else, people will take notice.
Trust me, there are things that bother me about this too. I think the IRS is a large, bureaucratic mess, and our government seems to love burning our money on frivilous things. In general, no one enjoys seeing 25% of their paycheck going to “the man,” but I do it because it is the right thing to do. No questions asked.
Whether it’s paying taxes or lending a hand to someone who needs help, do not do anything out of fear or “because you have to.” Instead, do what you are called to do because it is simply the right thing to do. Let the world see the example of what it means to be a good Catholic – in all that you do. Being Catholic is more than going to Mass on Sundays; often times, it is what you do between Sundays that really makes a difference.