As true disciples of Jesus Christ we want to do what is right and pleasing to God (1 John 3:22).
In our desire to do what is right, we strive to fully submit to the righteousness of God, which is exemplified by Christ (Romans 10:3-4). How do we, then, put on the same mind as Christ’s, esteeming others better than ourselves, being humble and united in love, affection and mercy (Philippians 2:1-5)?
One way that has helped me personally is to keep in mind the “trunk of the tree,” the very purpose why we are born, which is none other than to be heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17-18)!
It is very encouraging to always remember the love that God the Father has for us (John 3:16; 1 John 4:8, 16) to make us His children. We have a better understanding—albeit still very incomplete—of that enormous love and the abundant riches of God’s grace towards us (Ephesians 1:7) when we become parents like Him and have our own children and grandchildren. How great is His grace and goodness towards those who fear and have faith in Him (Psalm 31:19)! God wants us to ultimately be like Him at Christ’s second coming. That really should motivate us all to strive to do what is right (1 John 3:1-3).
What then does God expect of us? Does He want sacrifices and offerings (Micah 6:6-7)? It is like what we expect from our children! What we want is for our children to grow into well balanced and well-adjusted adults who are considerate and loving to others. Likewise God wants a living sacrifice in the way we live, which is nothing else than our reasonable duty and calling. It means we are to live a new life, with a transformed way of thinking according to God’s will (Romans 12:1-2). And that is to do justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly in faith before God (Micah 6:8)—which is exactly what the Pharisees lacked (Matthew 23:23).
“As true children of God we are therefore to imitate Christ in doing what is right, which involves holding on steadfastly to the truth and to grow in His grace and knowledge.”
It means putting to death our own corrupt human nature with the help of God’s Holy Spirit and putting on the new man according to Christ’s image (Colossians 3:1-14). In doing that the genuineness of our faithful commitment will be tried and tested through various difficulties in life, which we have to endure until the end (1 Peter 1:6-7; Revelation 17:14). It means we have to put on the divine nature of God, to be like Him, with the help of God’s Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:3-4).
More specifically, to do what is right, we must make every effort to add to faith all virtuous characteristics of proper interpersonal relationships, with self-control and patience in the process of becoming more like Christ is, in both brotherly love and godly agape love (2 Peter 1:5-7). This is an unending commitment to bear fruit in the knowledge of Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:8). If we do so we will never leave the Church (2 Peter 1:10), and we will be blessed with the gift of eternal life in the Kingdom of God (2 Peter 1:11).
For this reason it is important for us to be reminded of what is important (2 Peter 1:12-13)—what is the “trunk of the tree.” Hopefully we have learned to choose the right tree, the tree of life (Genesis 2:16-17)! Therefore choosing to do what is right is really the meat of the matter (Deuteronomy 30:19). That is the solid food of the Christian life and experience: discerning right from wrong and having our senses exercised in doing what is right (Hebrews 5:14).
As true children of God we are therefore to imitate Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1; John 13:15) in doing what is right, which involves holding on steadfastly to the truth and to grow in His grace and knowledge (2 Peter 3:18).
A trap some may fall into is when they try to establish their own righteousness (Romans 10:2-3). In such cases some get caught in twigs, with their own ideas, fables and calculations of dates and times which only cause divisions. Such do not produce godly edification of the Church of God (1 Timothy 1:3-4; 2 Timothy 4:3-5). Some of these people may come in by stealth, as has happened before, turning the grace of our God into an excuse to break God’s laws, and some others have ended up denying our Master and Lord, Jesus Christ (Jude 1:3-4).
We clearly live in the end times, and some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits, doctrines of demons (1 Timothy 4:1) and contradictions of what is falsely called science (1 Timothy 6:20). We know that such ungodly ideas spread like cancer, causing disputes that generate pain and suffering (2 Timothy 2:16-17, 23).
Let us keep the big picture in our mind—the trunk of the tree! We were born predestined to be sons and daughters of God (Romans 8:16). Don’t get sidetracked onto twigs, because they break sooner or later, and one then ends up being separated from the trunk of the tree (John 15:6).
Remember that our hope is so great that even the whole creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed, when the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God (Romans 8:19-21, New International Version).
Let us keep our great hope—the purpose of why we were born—burning bright in our minds with the help of God’s Holy Spirit. This way we may do what is right and pleasing to God. And this way we might be preserved blameless at the time of Jesus Christ’s return (1 Thessalonians 5:23).