“For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light.”
The overwhelming glory of God stems from His unending goodness. It’s in everything He does and everything He is. Goodness is one of the fruits of the Spirit: it’s both the means to an end and the end itself, just as God is our constant companion on the road to His Kingdom and the Kingdom Itself.
What does that mean for us? It means that goodness is our mission statement. Goodness is our watchword and our yardstick by which we measure how we’re handling things. Goodness is us walking the walk as well as talking the talk, and goodness is our revelation of God’s heart to everyone we meet.
Make no mistake about it: goodness is commanded to us. It’s not optional. It’s not an elective. We don’t get to be less good because our buddy across the aisle in church has had a particularly good week. It’s not cumulative: our last three weeks of goodness don’t excuse the week before, and the next three months of goodness don’t allow for tomorrow’s decision not to be good. It’s the only lifestyle that can truly represent God, that exemplifies the heart of Christ, whose example we were set two thousand years before we were born.
When things are going well, goodness is a doddle, a walk in the park. Anyone can be good when things are great. It doesn’t take any effort to smile on a sunny day, and it doesn’t require the heart of Christ to exemplify the heart of Christ when your life is a Dick Van Dyke movie. Goodness is critical and important in times of struggle, strife and hardship. A good man or woman walks in a manner worthy of God’s nature, not because their life is going well, but because goodness is pleasing to God.
We’re instructed to love our enemy as we love ourselves—but why not more? Matthew 5 says, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.”
Every action is an opportunity to display goodness. It’s our source of power: the greatest weapon at our disposal in the fight against evil. Defeating an enemy is the least efficient and effective method of dealing with him, after all: the best way of confronting an enemy is to make him your friend.
Remember: we are Christlike because we overflow with Him. We abound. We flourish. We are extravagant, lavish and profuse. Each and every situation that occurs is an opportunity to express the goodness of God. Each and every circumstance is a resource to be mined, to display the goodness of God. Yes, it’s a challenge, because God is challenging us—to live, think, speak and act in the goodness of God in every situation, regardless of context.
And yes, that challenge comes with an assurance that we will be taken for granted. We will have our good nature casually used and abused. We will be laughed at, thought naïve, considered to be foolish. Absolutely we will. It’s not important in the slightest: the expression of goodness isn’t done to obtain approval from the people around us, or for reciprocal attention: we don’t do good to have good done unto us. We display a Christlike heart upon our sleeves for the glory of God, and to parade that glory before the world, to set an example to follow, just as Christ did for us.
We’re the physical evidence, the tangible proof on this planet that shows that God is good. There’s no higher calling, and there’s no greater truth.
If you are interested in listening to Graham speak about goodness and becoming Christlike in depth, check out The Art of Thinking Brilliantly at Brilliant Book House!