Many passages in the Bible exhort us to do the right thing. For example:
“Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap—if we do not grow weary” (Galatians 6:9 NASB).
The Ten Commandments is another passage, specifically identifying several things that are right to do. But those commands do not come with a set of carrots—that is, there is no extra manna for those who keep the commandment “You shall not murder” (Deuteronomy 5:17).
California incentivizing criminals
Yet Fresno, California, is considering incentivizing criminals to not commit additional crimes. Other California cities have already adopted this practice, including Sacramento, Stockton, and Richmond.
In fact, “In Richmond, the stipend for high risk individuals giving up violent activity ranges from $300 to $1,00 each month.”
The city of Dallas has gone a step further, announcing that “thefts of personal items under $750 that are stolen out of necessity” will not be prosecuted.
These city-wide strategies to combat crime through financial benefits to convicted criminals reflect a similar mentality demonstrated in the last presidential administration. Its foreign policy financially rewarded countries that had a track record of misbehavior.
150 billion to Iran
For example, Iran was the world’s biggest funder of international terrorism and repeatedly chanted “Death to America.” So we gave them $150 billion in cash rather than imposing crippling sanctions on them to punish their bad behavior. Similarly, as North Korea was building their nuclear weapons programs, the Clinton Administration gave them billions of dollars to put an “end to the threat of nuclear proliferation on the Korean peninsula.” That funding rewarded their bad behavior, and actually increased the nuclear threat, providing them more resources to increase the wrong they were already doing. Why do we so often reward our enemies and those who do wrong?
“I was envious of the arrogant as I saw the prosperity of the wicked” (Psalm 73:3 NASB).
If American cities begin rewarding those who committed violent acts in order to somehow combat recidivism, then what incentive is there for law-abiding citizens to continue good behavior at a comparative financial loss?
Doing what’s right
Doing what is right comes not from financial incentive payments but rather from a deeply engrained sense of morals—of rights and wrongs. As George Washington affirmed:
“[T]he consideration that human happiness and moral duty are inseparably connected will always continue to prompt me to promote the progress of the former [happiness] by inculcating the practice of the latter [morality].”
For those who do right, they will one day be rewarded by God:
“Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25:23 NIV).
In the meantime, we should heed the words of Jesus:
“Go. From now on, sin no more” (John 8:11 NASB).
We should do the right thing simply because it is the right thing.
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