Do The Ends Justify The Means?
Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life. Proverbs 4:13
A five-year-old Australian girl was “doing very well” after a heart-lung transplant in London, but her father halfway around the world in Melbourne wasn’t doing very well. Robert Edward Matthews, then aged 39, was apprehended for robbing a McDonald’s restaurant to help pay for the surgery which gave the promise of new life to his little girl. “I did it for Brooke,” said Matthews, “and I’d do it again,” he told the court.
The motive was right–the method was wrong. It’s a reflection of the way we think today. It reminds me of a clipping in my file telling about a bill that was introduced before an assembly of lawmakers to legalize prostitution and to provide licensing of houses and individuals “only upon satisfactory proof that the applicant is of good character.”
Not much different from the story of J. Edwin Orr, wherein Orr wrote about Mickey Cohen, who heard the Gospel and was alleged to have been converted but was disappointed that he could not be a Christian gangster.
It reminds me of a conversation in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass, where Humpty Dumpty and Alice are talking, and Humpty Dumpty says to Alice, “When I use a word, it means just what I chose it to mean, neither more nor less.” But Alice responds, “The question is whether you can make words mean different things.”
In one word, as I see it, the problem is PERSPECTIVE! That’s why a man can be concerned about paying his daughter’s hospital bill, and rob a restaurant to do it, and a prostitute can be considered a woman of good character, and a man who is a gangster and racketeer can consider himself to be a Christian. Man’s perspective as opposed to God’s.
“All a man’s ways seem innocent to him…” wrote the wise man in the book of Proverbs 16:2. Then he continued, “but motives are weighed by the LORD.” That’s where God comes into the picture, and no matter what you think about something, no matter how right it looks to you or how well it fits your logic, He has the final word.
“There is a way that seems right to a man,” says God’s Word, the Bible, “but in the end it leads to death” (Proverbs 16:25). That’s the difference between man’s wisdom and God’s wisdom.
If God has the final word in things, and He does, a wise man or woman tries to see life from His perspective. He looks at the genuine instead of the counterfeit. Ruth Graham once sat next to the director of the Bank of Scotland and the conversation drifted to counterfeiting, and she said, “I suppose you study counterfeit money a lot so you can spot the fake.” “No,” he replied, “we instruct our people to know the real thing.”
Get God’s point of view to learn to think straight–to help you understand what really counts–what lasts in an artificial world.
One more thing needs to be said to complete today’s commentary. Just where do you get God’s perspective? Not by reading the newspaper or checking out the astrological forecasts, or having some guru stir your coffee grounds with a divining rod. There is one book which gives God’s point of view. It is His Book, known as the Bible. As strange as it seems to some, the Bible makes sense. It has a divine wisdom that goes far beyond the superficial veneer of life today. At times, it painfully cuts across the trends of our day and convicts us of our shallowness and sinfulness. But there is one thing for sure–since He has the last word, we had better learn how He views life. The way which seems right to a man and which also leads to death is a marked contrast from the way to God. It’s worth learning about.
Resource reading: Proverbs 16:1-33