The last verse in Judges says everyone did what was right in their own eyes (Judges 21:25). Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

Everyone wants to be happy.  Everyone does what is right in their own eyes because they think that will make them happy.  Nobody thinks “I am going to do what’s wrong in my own eyes so that I will be happy.  Doing what’s right in our eyes is equal to doing what we need to do to be happy.  Muslims, Mennonites and Mormons do what is right in their own eyes to be happy.  So do Anglicans, Animists and Atheists.  We have some philosophy or world view that instructs our behavior in hopes that we will be happy.

So what about those Israelites who did what was right in their own eyes?  I think that they were happy.  Dallas Willard clued me in to this idea on his book  about Spiritual Disciplines.  He writes that the people of Israel at this time were living during the times of the Judges.  They had recently taken control of the Promised land.  The land flowing with milk and honey.  They were happy because they had seen the mighty hand of God at work in their favor.  They were a people specially chosen by the Creator of the universe and had received His laws, precepts and commands because He loved them and wanted them to be happy.  When they had a conflict with someone that made them unhappy, they could present their case before a local judge who, with the help of God, could make a wise decision about the conflict, so that ideally both parties could walk away reconciled and content.

We also can do what is right in our own eyes and live happy lives if we live in right relationship with God.  Then His delight becomes our delight.  His righteousness become our righteousness.  This doesn’t happen overnight.  That’s why Willard wrote his book about Spiritual Disciplines.  These disciplines Jesus practiced to be happy and live in communion with the Father.  Disciplines like silence and solitide, alone time with the Father.  Disciplines like study, worship and service, in fellowship with other believers. These are all important to successfully live a happy life doing what is right in our own eyes.

Here are a few more good words from Dallas Willard, taken from his book The Spirit of the Disciplines –

To do as one pleases is the ideal condition of humanity, what is often called “freedom”, and does not imply wrong doing at all.

God has all along intended that we walk with him on a personal basis, be pleased by the right things, and then do what is right in our own eyes. This is why we were made and what constitutes our individuality.

God calls us to be part of his efforts.  Our part is to understand the way God works with humanity to extend his Kingdom, and to act on the basis of that understanding.

So, just like the Israelites, we can live righteously, delighting in God, cooperating with God, doing what is right in our own eyes.