When Doing Good is Bad
He said, “But I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.” Exodus 3:12
Once, after attempting recovery and then relapsing myself, I tried to help someone else who was struggling with addiction. I thought it was the right thing to do, I knew it was expected of me, and I thought it would make those around me believe that I was sober. I was living a lie which I hid from everyone, so what better way to fool them, than try and help someone else recover? It was an anemic, half-hearted effort, which fell flat. I couldn’t help the one addicted and I certainly got nothing out of it. I was in no place to help anyone else with addiction because I was enslaved myself. Now, in recovery, I find I’m energized in the success experienced by those I’m trying to help. Because I’m in a completely different place, living in faith and recovery, God uses me in the lives of others. I once tried to do good on my own terms and failed miserably. Now though, I’m daily seeking God’s will, and that makes all the difference.
I think Moses must have experienced something similar. Moses had once seen himself as the defender of his people. He wanted to do good. Full of impulse and rage though, he went about it the wrong way, murdering an Egyptian. In fear of Pharaoh, Moses ran away, abandoning his people. Now, in today’s passage though, God sent him back to Egypt to deliver the Hebrews. What was the difference? This time, Moses would be following God’s plan, instead of his own. Once, Moses tried to do good on his own terms and failed miserably. Now, Moses would be following God’s will, doing the good that he intended, and that made all the difference.
As Christians, we know that we’re supposed to do good things, but often, we do them from the wrong place. Maybe we think we need to earn God’s love. Maybe we do good to try and balance out all the bad we do. Maybe, like Moses, we try to do good from our own motives, fail miserably, and then abandon doing good altogether. Or maybe, we just sit back and do nothing. Then, we wonder why we don’t see God working in our lives. The Christian life is meant to be one of doing good, but we first must point our lives at God’s will. God, what do you want me to do? Any other direction, no matter how well-intended, is the wrong direction.