Author: Ron Graham
Imagine that a certain husband, on his wife's birthday, decides to take her breakfast in bed. He's been married to her long enough to know her likes and dislikes. She likes porridge, vegemite on lightly toasted white bread, and white tea with two sugars. He prefers puffed rice, peanut butter on wholemeal bread nearly burnt, and black coffee. Because that's what he prefers, that's what he makes for his wife. How pleased will this wife be with her husband?
Many of us treat God in that way. When we serve God, we do what we prefer or think to be best, instead of trying to understand what God wants. One may say that the husband did right to serve his wife, and we do right to serve God. However the husband clearly did right wrongly, and in serving God so might we.
One of the first stories in the Bible is about the worship of Cain. He brought an offering to God of the vegetables he grew. Abel his brother brought an offering to God from the flocks he kept. The Bible explains that "by faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain" (Hebrews 11:4). What does that mean? Well, "faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17). Abel was acting upon the word of God which he had heard. Cain was acting on his own preferences and presumptions.
When you worship God, do you do what seems good to you, or do you do what God has prescribed in his word? By what authority and by what ordinance do you worship God?
Here we have people doing the right thing, bring the ark of the covenant back to where it belongs. But they were doing right wrongly. They carried the ark in a new cart when it should have been carried by the priests. David later saw the truth. When he called the priests to carry the ark, he said, "Because you did not carry it in the first place, the Lord our God made an outburst upon us, for we did not seek him according to the ordinance" (1Chronicles 15:11-15). They had done right wrongly. Now they were doing right rightly, "according to the due order... according to the word of God" (1Chronicles 15:13,15). Or do you seek to do the task according to the ordinance in God's word?
It appears that David used a new cart because that's what the Philistine priests had done (see 1Samuel 6:1-21). Instead of imitating what others had done, David should have consulted the ordinance of God and done what it said. When we want to be workers for the Lord, we should determine what God wants —rather than simply imitating other people's ideas.
It was right for men to come down from Jerusalem to teach the Gentile converts. However, they were doing right wrongly because they were teaching the wrong thing. Their doctrine was "unless you are circumcised according to the law of Moses, you cannot be saved" (Acts 15:1). This was not according to the gospel. When we go around teaching to convert the lost or to edify those already converted, we must be certain that we are not teaching the wrong thing. There are always errors and issues of one sort or another circulating in the churches. We must teach the right and "contend earnestly for the faith once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 1:3) Otherwise, we are doing right wrongly and that's no better than simply doing wrong.