Day 288

Never Tire of Doing What Is Right

Wisdom Proverbs 25:1-10
New Testament 2 Thessalonians 3:1-18
Old Testament Jeremiah 31:15-32:25


Martin Luther King said, ‘On some positions, Cowardice asks the question, “Is it safe?” Expediency asks the question, “Is it politic?” And Vanity comes along and asks the question, “Is it popular?” But Conscience asks the question, “Is it right?”

‘The ultimate measure of a person is not where they stand in moments of convenience, but where they stand in moments of challenge, moments of great crisis and controversy.’

Doing what is right in difficult situations in the workplace is a huge challenge. In his book*, God at Work,* Ken Costa writes, ‘There are right and wrong choices… all the invented terms such as “inappropriate” and “counterproductive” are efforts to avoid the simple ethical fact that there is a right and wrong course of action.’

When facing a difficult pastoral situation those of us in the leadership of the church need to remind ourselves that the first question we have to ask is, ‘What is the right thing to do?’ And only then move to the second question, ‘What is the most pastoral way to do it?’

Of course, none of us gets it right all the time. We all make mistakes. As Ken Costa writes, ‘We only grow in wisdom if we learn from our mistakes. Siegmund Warburg (Ken’s first boss) said on this subject: “Some name it disappointment and become poorer, others name it experience and become richer.”’

In today’s New Testament passage, Paul writes to the Thessalonians, ‘Never tire of doing what is right’ (2 Thessalonians 3:13). Jesus did not go for the easy or popular solution, but he always did the right thing. This is an important principle that runs throughout the entire Bible.


Proverbs 25:1-10

More Proverbs of Solomon

25These are more proverbs of Solomon, compiled by the men of Hezekiah king of Judah:

2 It is the glory of God to conceal a matter;
    to search out a matter is the glory of kings.
3 As the heavens are high and the earth is deep,
    so the hearts of kings are unsearchable.

4 Remove the dross from the silver,
    and a silversmith can produce a vessel;
5 remove wicked officials from the king’s presence,
    and his throne will be established through righteousness.

6 Do not exalt yourself in the king’s presence,
    and do not claim a place among his great men;
7 it is better for him to say to you, “Come up here,”
    than for him to humiliate you before his nobles.

What you have seen with your eyes
    8 do not bring hastily to court,
for what will you do in the end
    if your neighbor puts you to shame?

9 If you take your neighbor to court,
    do not betray another’s confidence,
10 or the one who hears it may shame you
    and the charge against you will stand.


Doing what is right is very practical

Doing what is right means getting rid of everything that is not right in our lives: ‘Remove the dross from the silver, and out comes material for the silversmith; remove the wicked from the king’s presence, and his throne will be established through righteousness’ (vv.4–5). Here are some practical examples of what living righteously looks like:

1. Act with humility

You do not need to push yourself forward. The right thing to do is to act with humility: ‘Don’t work yourself into the spotlight; don’t push your way into the place of prominence. It’s better to be promoted to a place of honour than face humiliation by being demoted’ (vv.6–7, MSG).
This is exactly the point that Jesus expounded in one of his parables (Luke 14:8–11).

2. Always assume the best

‘Don’t jump to conclusions – there may be a perfectly good explanation for what you just saw’ (Proverbs 25:8, MSG).

3. Never betray a confidence

Do the right thing in relation to your neighbour. Do not go hastily to court (v.8). If you do end up in court, always do and say the right thing. ‘In the heat of an argument, don’t betray confidences’ (v.9, MSG).


Lord, help us in our church community to get rid of the dross in our hearts, to act with humility towards one another and to seek always to do the right thing.

New Testament

2 Thessalonians 3:1-18

Request for Prayer

3As for other matters, brothers and sisters, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you. 2 And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil people, for not everyone has faith. 3 But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one. 4 We have confidence in the Lord that you are doing and will continue to do the things we command. 5 May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.

Warning Against Idleness

6 In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers and sisters, to keep away from every believer who is idle and disruptive and does not live according to the teaching you received from us. 7 For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, 8 nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. 9 We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you to imitate. 10 For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.”

11 We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive. They are not busy; they are busybodies. 12 Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the food they eat. 13 And as for you, brothers and sisters, never tire of doing what is right.

14 Take special note of anyone who does not obey our instruction in this letter. Do not associate with them, in order that they may feel ashamed. 15 Yet do not regard them as an enemy, but warn them as you would a fellow believer.

Final Greetings

16 Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.

17 I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand, which is the distinguishing mark in all my letters. This is how I write.

18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.


Doing right spreads the message

Paul’s overriding concern was that the gospel should get out to as many people as quickly as possible – that it would ‘simply take off and race through the country to a ground-swell of response’ (v.1, MSG).

For this to happen, he prays that they will continue to do the right things: ‘We have confidence in the Lord that you are doing and will continue to do the things we command’ (v.4). He tells them, ‘you ought to follow our example’ (v.7). Paul lived in such a way that provided ‘a model for you to follow’ (v.9). He urges, ‘never tire of doing what is right’ (v.13).

1. Pray for your leaders

Leaders need your prayers: ‘And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil people, for not everyone has faith. But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one’ (vv.2–3).

2. Follow the way of love

Paul prays, ‘May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love’ (v.5a).

3. Never give up

He prays that the Lord will direct their hearts into God’s love and ‘Christ’s perseverance’ (v.5).

It’s not enough to do the right thing occasionally or when you feel like it. Persist, endure and continue all the way to the end.

4. Pull your weight

Do not do anything to bring the gospel into disrepute. Do not sit idly and watch life pass by. Paul sets an example of hard work: ‘We showed you how to pull your weight when we were with you, so get on with it. We didn’t sit around on our hands expecting others to take care of us. In fact, we worked our fingers to the bone... we simply wanted to provide an example of diligence, hoping it would prove contagious’ (vv.7–9, MSG).

We are to exercise discipline. If people are not doing the right thing they should not be regarded as enemies but warned as brothers and sisters (v.15).


Lord, give me wisdom and perseverance so that I may always do the right thing. May the peace and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with us all (vv.16,18).

Old Testament

Jeremiah 31:15-32:25

15 This is what the Lord says:

“A voice is heard in Ramah,
    mourning and great weeping,
Rachel weeping for her children
    and refusing to be comforted,
    because they are no more.”

16 This is what the Lord says:

“Restrain your voice from weeping
    and your eyes from tears,
for your work will be rewarded, ”
        declares the Lord.
    “They will return from the land of the enemy.
17 So there is hope for your descendants,”
        declares the Lord.
    “Your children will return to their own land.

18 “I have surely heard Ephraim’s moaning:
    ‘You disciplined me like an unruly calf,
    and I have been disciplined.
Restore me, and I will return,
    because you are the Lord my God.
19 After I strayed,
    I repented;
after I came to understand,
    I beat my breast.
I was ashamed and humiliated
    because I bore the disgrace of my youth.’
20 Is not Ephraim my dear son,
    the child in whom I delight?
Though I often speak against him,
    I still remember him.
Therefore my heart yearns for him;
    I have great compassion for him,”
        declares the Lord.

21 “Set up road signs;
    put up guideposts.
Take note of the highway,
    the road that you take.
Return, Virgin Israel,
    return to your towns.
22 How long will you wander,
    unfaithful Daughter Israel?
The Lord will create a new thing on earth—
    the woman will return to the man.”

23 This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “When I bring them back from captivity, the people in the land of Judah and in its towns will once again use these words: ‘The Lord bless you, you prosperous city, you sacred mountain.’ 24 People will live together in Judah and all its towns—farmers and those who move about with their flocks. 25 I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.”

26 At this I awoke and looked around. My sleep had been pleasant to me.

27 “The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will plant the kingdoms of Israel and Judah with the offspring of people and of animals. 28 Just as I watched over them to uproot and tear down, and to overthrow, destroy and bring disaster, so I will watch over them to build and to plant,” declares the Lord. 29 “In those days people will no longer say,

‘The parents have eaten sour grapes,
and the children’s teeth are set on edge.’

30 Instead, everyone will die for their own sin; whoever eats sour grapes—their own teeth will be set on edge.

31 “The days are coming,” declares the Lord,
    “when I will make a new covenant
with the people of Israel
    and with the people of Judah.
32 It will not be like the covenant
    I made with their ancestors
when I took them by the hand
    to lead them out of Egypt,
because they broke my covenant,
    though I was a husband to them,”
        declares the Lord.
33 “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel
    after that time,” declares the Lord.
“I will put my law in their minds
    and write it on their hearts.
I will be their God,
    and they will be my people.
34 No longer will they teach their neighbor,
    or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’
because they will all know me,
    from the least of them to the greatest,”
        declares the Lord.
“For I will forgive their wickedness
    and will remember their sins no more.”

35 This is what the Lord says,

he who appoints the sun
    to shine by day,
who decrees the moon and stars
    to shine by night,
who stirs up the sea
    so that its waves roar —
    the Lord Almighty is his name:
36 “Only if these decrees vanish from my sight,”
        declares the Lord,
“will Israel ever cease
    being a nation before me.”

37 This is what the Lord says:

“Only if the heavens above can be measured
    and the foundations of the earth below be searched out
will I reject all the descendants of Israel
    because of all they have done,”
        declares the Lord.

38 “The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when this city will be rebuilt for me from the Tower of Hananel to the Corner Gate. 39 The measuring line will stretch from there straight to the hill of Gareb and then turn to Goah. 40 The whole valley where dead bodies and ashes are thrown, and all the terraces out to the Kidron Valley on the east as far as the corner of the Horse Gate, will be holy to the Lord. The city will never again be uprooted or demolished.”

Jeremiah Buys a Field

32This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord in the tenth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, which was the eighteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar. 2 The army of the king of Babylon was then besieging Jerusalem, and Jeremiah the prophet was confined in the courtyard of the guard in the royal palace of Judah.

3 Now Zedekiah king of Judah had imprisoned him there, saying, “Why do you prophesy as you do? You say, ‘This is what the Lord says: I am about to give this city into the hands of the king of Babylon, and he will capture it. 4 Zedekiah king of Judah will not escape the Babylonians but will certainly be given into the hands of the king of Babylon, and will speak with him face to face and see him with his own eyes. 5 He will take Zedekiah to Babylon, where he will remain until I deal with him, declares the Lord. If you fight against the Babylonians, you will not succeed.’”

6 Jeremiah said, “The word of the Lord came to me: 7 Hanamel son of Shallum your uncle is going to come to you and say, ‘Buy my field at Anathoth, because as nearest relative it is your right and duty to buy it.’

8 “Then, just as the Lord had said, my cousin Hanamel came to me in the courtyard of the guard and said, ‘Buy my field at Anathoth in the territory of Benjamin. Since it is your right to redeem it and possess it, buy it for yourself.’

“I knew that this was the word of the Lord; 9 so I bought the field at Anathoth from my cousin Hanamel and weighed out for him seventeen shekels of silver. 10 I signed and sealed the deed, had it witnessed, and weighed out the silver on the scales. 11 I took the deed of purchase—the sealed copy containing the terms and conditions, as well as the unsealed copy— 12 and I gave this deed to Baruch son of Neriah, the son of Mahseiah, in the presence of my cousin Hanamel and of the witnesses who had signed the deed and of all the Jews sitting in the courtyard of the guard.

13 “In their presence I gave Baruch these instructions: 14 ‘This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Take these documents, both the sealed and unsealed copies of the deed of purchase, and put them in a clay jar so they will last a long time. 15 For this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Houses, fields and vineyards will again be bought in this land.’

16 “After I had given the deed of purchase to Baruch son of Neriah, I prayed to the Lord:

17 “Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you. 18 You show love to thousands but bring the punishment for the parents’ sins into the laps of their children after them. Great and mighty God, whose name is the Lord Almighty, 19 great are your purposes and mighty are your deeds. Your eyes are open to the ways of all mankind; you reward each person according to their conduct and as their deeds deserve. 20 You performed signs and wonders in Egypt and have continued them to this day, in Israel and among all mankind, and have gained the renown that is still yours. 21 You brought your people Israel out of Egypt with signs and wonders, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm and with great terror. 22 You gave them this land you had sworn to give their ancestors, a land flowing with milk and honey. 23 They came in and took possession of it, but they did not obey you or follow your law; they did not do what you commanded them to do. So you brought all this disaster on them.

24 “See how the siege ramps are built up to take the city. Because of the sword, famine and plague, the city will be given into the hands of the Babylonians who are attacking it. What you said has happened, as you now see. 25 And though the city will be given into the hands of the Babylonians, you, Sovereign Lord, say to me, ‘Buy the field with silver and have the transaction witnessed. ’”


The Spirit helps you to do right

In one of the greatest prophecies of the Old Testament, Jeremiah foresees the new covenant (31:31). The new covenant will be different from the old one (v.32).

‘“This is the covenant that I will make with the people of Israel
after that time,” declares the Lord.
“I will put my law in their minds
     and write it on their hearts.
I will be their God,
     and they will be my people.
No longer will they teach their neighbour,
     or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’
because they will all know me,
     from the least of them to the greatest,”
declares the Lord.
“For I will forgive their wickedness
     and will remember their sins no more.”’ (vv.33–34).

These few verses are alluded to again and again in the New Testament (see, for instance, Luke 22:20; 2 Corinthians 3:5–18 and Hebrews 8:8–12). They highlight a series of wonderful promises about this ‘new covenant’, which pointed forward to Jesus:

1. God forgives your failure to do the right things

This new covenant was made possible by the blood of Jesus Christ. At the last supper, before he was crucified, ‘he took the cup and said, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you”’ (Luke 22:20).

The new covenant between God and humans that Jeremiah spoke about enables you to be in right relationship with God. It came about through Jesus’ blood shed on the cross.

All of your sins have been forgiven, ‘the slate wiped clean’ (Jeremiah 31:34, MSG), through the blood of Christ. As Joyce Meyer writes, ‘Whatever your sin or failure, you need to confess it to God and then let it go. Stop punishing yourself for something that is in the past. Refuse to remember something God has chosen to forget.’

2. God’s Spirit helps you to do the right thing

We have the extraordinary privilege of living in the age of the Spirit. God’s law is not simply written on tablets of stone. Rather, God works in you, by his Spirit, to give you a passion to please him (‘I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts,’ v.33b), and to give you the experience of a personal relationship with him (‘I will be their God and they will be my people,’ v.33c). We can all know the Lord (v.34).

God calls you to do the right thing even when it’s not easy. Doing what is right does not necessarily lead to an easy life. Jeremiah was shut up in jail in the royal palace. Zedekiah locked him up for choosing to do the right thing (32:1–3).

We see another example of Jeremiah doing the right thing in spite of the circumstances (vv.6–8). God tells him to buy a field, even though the Babylonians were about to take Jerusalem. The field itself would become utterly worthless. But Jeremiah was not concerned about money. Doing the right thing is more important than financial gain or the likelihood of success.

Jeremiah’s obedience in doing the right thing was remembered for all time. In Matthew’s Gospel, we read that the purchase of the ‘potter’s field’ with the money paid to Judas for his betrayal of Jesus was a fulfilment of Jeremiah’s prophetic action (Matthew 27:5–10).


Lord, help me to do the right thing regardless of circumstances. Thank you that the past is forgiven and forgotten. Thank you that I can know you. Thank you that you have put your Spirit into my heart. Guide me to do the right thing today and into the future.

Pippa adds

Jeremiah 31:34

‘For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.’

It is not that God has a bad memory (like me). But God chooses to forget our sins when we confess them and ask for forgiveness. The enemy tries to remind us of them. But we, also, have to choose to forget them… and we have to choose to forget the sins of other people as well!

Verse of the Day

Jeremiah 32:17

‘Nothing is too hard for [the Lord]’.


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The One Year® is a registered trademark of Tyndale House Publishers. Used by permission.

Joyce Meyer, The Everyday Life Bible (Faithwords, 2018), p.1199

Ken Costa, God at Work (Alpha International, 2013), pp.69–70, 85.

Martin Luther King, 6 February 1968, Washington DC, quoted in Gordon Brown, Courage – Eight Portraits (Bloomsbury, 2008) p.113.

Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790.

Scripture marked (MSG) taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

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