The Next Right Thing

Disney’s Frozen is a staple in our house. Between Frozen and Frozen 2, our DVD player and Siri have probably memorized the words of each song. It helps that Kaitlyn’s personality is so much like Elsa’s and Faith’s like Anna’s.

One of my favorite “lessons” of Frozen 2 is do “the next right thing.” “The Next Right Thing” is even a song in the movie. SPOILER ALERT: There is a climactic scene in the movie where Princess Anna thinks her sister, Queen Elsa, and her dear, trusted friend Olaf, are dead. Anna remembered the sage counsel of the wise troll Pabbie. Pabbie told the young sisters, “when one can see no future, all one can do is the next right thing.”

Similarly, one of my favorite concepts in managerial accounting is “sunk costs.” These are costs that have already been expended and cannot be recovered. The reminder to business leaders is, do not throw “good money after bad.” In other words, when making future decisions, regardless of how much money (or time) you have invested in a strategy, product, service, etc., if the plan is not working out, make the best decision for the future based on what you know now, not the past. In other words, regardless of how much money you have already spent on a plan or what struggles got you here, do not factor those unsalvageable costs into what is truly the best decision going forward. Said differently, do “the next right thing.”

Scripture gives us two contrasting examples where individuals incurred sunk costs. But only one chose “the next right thing.” Despite some positive investments for Christ, both made a terrible, devastating mistake. I am thinking of Judas and Peter, close disciples of Christ, who made the grave mistake of betraying and denying Jesus on the night He was arrested. Both found themselves in despair (Matt. 27:3-6; Luke 22:60-62). But what they did next is what made the difference.

Remember, Judas was a friend of Jesus (Psa. 41:9; Matt. 26:49-50). But today, while once sitting in the company of the likes of Peter, Thomas, and even Paul, Judas is remembered as the worst of the worst. Judas’ name is synonymous with betrayal. Judas is always listed last in a detail of the apostles’ names, and with the moniker, “He who betrayed Jesus.” And despite living so closely with Jesus for years, he is one of the few people we know for sure ended up on the wrong side of eternity (Acts 1:24-25).

It’s sad. Judas sat at Jesus’ feet for years but did not truly take the messages to heart to change him. Judas took Jesus’ money but not his character (Jn. 12:4-8). Judas even did good works; no doubt being sent out to do good with the other twelve (Matt. 10). Judas even allowed the Lord to wash his feet (Jn. 13:1-17), right before he used those same feet to run to betray Him (Jn.13:26-30)!

After Judas’ betrayal, he was rightly remorseful but responded incorrectly. Rather than repenting, he gave up (Matt. 27:3-6). Imagine! If he had just waited from Friday morning to Sunday morning, he could have met the risen Jesus and been forgiven. It did not have to end the way it did for Judas! Regardless of his past transgressions (i.e., sunk costs), in his hopelessness, he could have chosen to do “the next right thing” and been saved.

Peter walked many of the same paths with Jesus as Judas did, heard the same lessons, but his heart was impacted very differently. Peter also betrayed Jesus (Lk. 22:60-62). But he then chose to do “the next right thing.” As a result, Peter was forgiven (Jn. 21:15-17). And because he repented, he was able to use those “keys” he was given to the kingdom (Matt. 16:13-19) to preach the first sermon under the Christian age (Acts 2:14-41) and teach to the first Gentile converts (Acts 10:34-48). In fact, Peter, Thomas, and Paul, all found restoration through repentance and choosing to do “the next right thing.”

For us today, no matter where we find ourselves in our spiritual journey, or how we got here, let’s choose to do “the next right thing.” God can forgive us of anything. Maybe after many good deeds for Christ, we have found ourselves under a deep pile of the rubble of our recent wrongs. In these times, we must remind ourselves, and each other, our past does not define us. Let’s choose “the next right thing” and be reconciled to God for His glory!