Does the End Justify the Means?

This was the question that I posed to a dear friend one day while we were traveling in the Pacific Southwest.

“Don, do you believe that it’s ever appropriate to do something that you know is wrong for the sake of what you perceive to be a greater good?  In other words, does the end ever justify the means?”

“Absolutely not!” Don was adamant. “It is never justifiable to do what you know is wrong. Once we believe that the end DOES justify the means, we open up a can of worms. If I can justify my wrong-doing then you most certainly can justify yours.”  Don was emphatic!  “If any wrong can be justified then ALL wrong can be justified.”

“I wholeheartedly agree, Don,” as we both nodded our heads.

“So then, here’s another question for you Don, if you don’t mind?”

He said, “Fire away!”

I said, “Don, did you vote in this year's presidential election?”

He answered, “Of course I did!”

And he proceeded to tell me how he voted. Then I asked him the following question:

“I’m curious, Don, how do you justify voting for that particular man?”

He said, “Easy.  It’s the lesser of two evils.”

I said, “Interesting.  So, you voted for evil?”

And he quickly corrected me, “No!  I didn’t vote for evil. I said I voted for the lesser of two evils.”

And I respectfully responded, “Then I did hear you correctly the first time.  You told me that you voted for evil. You called it a “lesser evil,” but nonetheless evil. Am I wrong?”

Now, today’s blog is not about politics. Personally, I am an Independent and I have friends on both sides of the aisle. Actually, this article is about making decisions and how we go about it. As professing Christians, we claim to believe in an ultimate standard of truth and authority; namely the Bible.  But do those of us who say we believe that the Bible is the word of God actually practice what we preach?

Does God sometimes call Christians to support evil because it is a lesser evil than some other types? Is this an exception to the generally agreed-upon principle that “the end does not justify the means?”

I have identified for myself a grid of five passages of Scripture that result in five statements of declaration that I would now like to share with you. These five “declarations” are the grid through which I pass all my decisions, including how I vote.

#1.  “God is opposed to the proud” (see James 4:6).  Therefore, I will not support what God opposes.

#2.  “Righteousness exalts a nation but sin is a disgrace to any people” (see Proverbs 14:34).  Therefore, I will not support what God finds disgraceful.

#3.  Jesus strongly condemned the hypocrisy of leaders (see Matthew 23).  Therefore, I will not support what Jesus condemns.

#4.  “They profess to know God but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good thing” (see Titus 1:15-16).  Therefore, I will not support what God considers worthless.

#5.  Jesus said, “Let your yes be yes, and your no, no.  Anything beyond this is evil” (see Matthew 5:37).  Therefore, I will not support what Jesus calls “evil.”

So there you have it:   a decision-making grid for those who sincerely seek to represent Jesus in everything they do.  My prayer is not that we would agree or disagree.  Rather, I pray for each of us that our decisions be based on the product of our own conclusions and not just the regurgitation of something we heard on our favorite news source or read on Facebook.

Learn more about Brad's book Warriors In Your Midst and get a copy HERE.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Brad Reiches received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California at Berkeley, his Master of Arts degree from Simpson University in Redding, CA and his Doctorate in International Christian Relations from Vision International University in Ramona, CA. As a Missionary and Bible translator Brad has been privileged to minister in eight countries including Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, and most recently, Nepal and New Guinea. He served with Wycliffe Associates from 2016-2018 as the Southwest Area Director and National Banquet Speaker Trainer. Brad has had the privilege to train more than two-hundred missionaries and speak to thousands around the world presenting a message of encouragement and hope. 

You may also contact Brad at Leadership Speakers Bureau to schedule her for speaking or leadership engagements.

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