MAKING IT BETTER
A sixth characteristic attitude must foster and develop is “goodness” (Gal.5: 22). It is a fruit because it helps us improve or make things a little better for our enjoyment and use. Due to its relationship to the word “good,” it is complicated to define. Jesus held that only God was good (Mk.10: 18). The Bible also supports the idea of a Benevolent Creator that made everything good (Ge.1: 10,12). It was man that stepped out of goodness and into a world of evil. Actually, it is man that has, by his disobedience, structured a world without goodness. All men have become sinners and are no longer capable of being good (Ro.3: 23). Paul, the Apostle was led to believe that humans with reformed attitudes could make things better for everyone. He himself began to make things better for others after Christ came into his life. Jesus the Christ, however, assigned the responsibility to become better and be helpful in improve things, including the human heart to man (Mt.15: 18-19). It was up to man to be and do what is better. The only way a person can determine where he/she is on a scale from 1 to 10 is by what one does. Man does not read the heart but the actions. And it is not the overwhelming huge deed that yields the richest harvest but the countless little deeds that make the large one possible.
In essence, what is goodness and why is it so essential? The Bible holds that
Goodness comes from the “Good” or God. When do I, as a human being, become filled sufficiently with goodness so that I could share it? Do I have to wait for God to fill me? In my own heart, I felt the need to do what was right long before I became active in religion (Ro.2: 15). I credit the seeding and planting of goodness into my heart by my parents. At the age of six and seven, I already could identify when my folks did not do what they wanted me to do. God did not wait until society decided when I could be regarded as accountable. He put a conscience in me before I was born and He expects me to fill it myself with actions and deeds that make things better (Eph.1: 4). God had more confidence in me than my own parents or society had. They treated me as a baby and not as an accountable being. It is even more tragic when adults are treated as babies when they are being absolved of their duties to be accountable. I was a pastor and I regret that I too preached that God would take care of the things I should have handled. I played the “Faith Harp” when I should have pounded the “Deed Drum!” Faith gets us nowhere, unless we move. We have been frozen in faith that we no longer can move ourselves without some help. Let us get up and do some good!
We look to Jesus as our author and finisher of our faith. That of course is true, but have we considered what kind of a faith He endorsed? To whom did He say, “Your faith has saved you or made you well?” Most of the people came or were brought to Him and those that He found were told to get up and walk with their loads on their backs. It was faith that brought these people to Jesus and not a one remained seated on faith after they were healed. It was their action that made healing and saving possible. In case we assume that they had great faith then hear the plea of the father, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief (Mk.9: 24)!” The disciple’s faith did not measure up to a mustard seed (Mt.17: 20-21). Yet, when at last they had to follow their faith on their own, they turned the world upside down. Faith for them was a roadmap into the world. And it had no meaning until they were on the road to where they could do some good.
Where are we headed and what mark are we leaving behind? Perhaps we should ask, “What are we waiting fore before we add our two bits that could make it better for someone like me? One of our Presidents wanted to turn us into a kinder and more compassionate nation. Unfortunately, not enough of us were willing to give something of ourselves to make it better for all of us. We were lacking on goodness. The number among us that wanted a bit of goodness was larger than the number that was willing to share what they had. The results have been obvious. For an example, in the heart of Berlin Germany is a memorial out of cement blocks. They are small at the outset and get taller as one walks into row after row several stories high. The message is, “Stop evil before it takes over.” If we keep on neglecting goodness, we shall end like Germany or worse.
The lack of goodness is no longer a matter for good people. Even the heartless must yield to the cry of the needy for justice (Lk.18: 5). Only, it cannot happen unless we have a changed attitude (Mt.21: 28). Could it be that God has hid the need for goodness to the wise and left it up to the children (Mt.11: 25)? If that is the case then we are going where the Romans went. In 65 A.D. Roman statesman wrote, “He that does good to another, does good also to himself, not only in the consequences, but in the very act; for the consequences of well doing is, in itself, ample reward” (Wa. 434). In our time, Phillips Brooks echoed these words, “No man or woman of the humblest sort can really be strong, gentle, pure, and good without the world being better for it, without someone being helped and comforted by the very existence of that goodness” (Wa. 1229). His advice was, “If there is any good that I can do or any kindness that I can show, let me do it quickly, for I shall not pass this way again” (Wa. 1485). Yes, there is something every one of us can do. On Father’s Day, our son’s Pastor introduced a couple that save and sacrifice so that they can go for three months to a foreign country and improve their living conditions as construction workers. These two humble and timid people have influenced many. Is it not what Jesus told a religious expert, “Go and do likewise (Lk.10: 37)?”