You’re always better off doing the right thing. That's why any tool that can help you make decisions easier can be a great addition to your tool belt. So here's one tool that I have found that is always true, that is always right, and that always works: You're always better off doing the right thing. You will never come across any decision in your life where this principle will not prove true.
So why does this principle stand up? Why are you really always better off doing the right thing? Well, first of all, there is a Sovereign God who runs the universe. Often people have this vague notion that God is way off in heaven and too preoccupied to pay much attention to what happens way down here. But the Bible makes it very clear that God is not indifferent to our actions. Repeatedly in the Bible, God makes it clear that "the LORD rewards every man for his righteousness and faithfulness" (1 Samuel 26:23) and that "your Father who sees in secret will reward you" (Matthew 6:4, for a few other examples see Psalm 19:11, 62:12, Proverbs 11:18, Luke 6:35, Ephesians 6:8, Hebrews 11:6, Revelation 22:12). In the end God will be a debtor to no one; he has promised that, and he always keeps his word. Therefore, doing the right thing places you under the blessing of God rather than his discipline. To think that you will be better off doing the wrong thing neglects the most important fact of all existence. They say that virtue is its own reward; I'm not too sure about that, but I know that following Jesus is.
Reminding ourselves that we are always better off doing the right thing also protects us against the self-deception of our own fallen hearts. We are masters at justifying our actions. We can always find some excuse, some explanation, some rational to legitimize what we want to do. No one has ever sinned without a good convincing rationalization, at least in his own mind. So following this principle undercuts the misleading games that so often go on in our heads.
Following this principle protects your future. Over time, the decisions that you make and the actions that you do determine who you are. Your character is not an intentional one-time choice that you get to make. Your character is the lifetime accumulation of millions of little, hidden, habit-forming choices that, at the time, seem so inconsequential. The problem with cutting corners or compromising in one little area is not limited to that one, isolated instance of sin. The problem is that that one action shapes who you are and will make you more liable to err in the future. Continue down that road for too long, and you will turn into someone that you do not want to be. Doing the right thing also promotes your future happiness by freeing you from the consequences of sin and the weight of regret.
Now many times doing the right thing will involve great costs. To understand how you are always better off doing the right thing, you must keep in view the big picture, the eternal picture. There are times when doing the right thing will hurt, sometimes grievously. For many people, following Jesus has led to much suffering and has cost many their lives. But, as God says in 1 Peter 3:17, "It is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God's will, than for doing evil." And that "better" is exactly the point.
At times you will do the right thing and reap the reward. At other times, you will choose poorly and fail. The good news is that ultimately, our lives do not come down to whether we always do the right thing, but that Jesus did.