When Norma Jean and I lived in Tennessee we had some wonderful neighbors, Phil and Fe Stack. They were retired Doctors. They were friendly, kind-hearted folks.
Phil’s background as a Psychiatrist coupled with his religious beliefs gave him a unique insight into human behavior. Phil and I had many “backyard visits” about world problems and the human condition
One day we were discussing problems in our public schools and Phil asked, “Do you know what would solve those problems?”
“Goodness,” Phil confidently replied.
“Goodness? What do you mean?”
Phil said if we would start teaching “Goodness” and how to be a good person our problems could be solved!
It was difficult to disagree. However, I opined that it might be hard to get folks to settle on a definition of goodness!
Several years later Phil contacted me that he had written a book on goodness entitled, “I Am A Good Person.” On the back cover he explained his thesis this way:
“EVERY HUMAN being is uniquely valuable, special, and important because (s)he is created in the image of God. Goodness, which is in the nature of God, flows through humans with purpose and good will so that pain and suffering may be transformed into peace and harmony. How can we increase the flow of God’s goodness into a needy world? By knowing where to be good, when to be good, how to be good, and why to be good.“
Our word of the week is “Goodness.”
By Biblical definition “goodness” describes the constitution of one’s character that has a beneficial effect. Goodness involves moral qualities that are honorable.
True goodness emanates from God. The Psalmist often proclaimed God’s goodness. Ps 31:19 “Oh, how great is Your goodness, Which You have laid up for those who fear You,” (Ps 31:19).
In the New Testament Paul pleads with his Jewish readers not to neglect God’s goodness.
“Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? (Rom. 2:4).
James, the bother of Jesus, affirms “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” (Jas. 1:18)
When God created the world, each day, He said, “it is good.” When he made Adam, God also made him a wife and said, “it is not good for man to be alone.” His plan for man’s salvation reflected God’s goodness. He sent Jesus who “went about doing good” (Acts 10:38). And the Gospel, which means “good news, was given to guide us and save us.
Is it any wonder that God desires goodness from His people? The fruit of the spirit that we are to produce includes goodness. Goodness is connected with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness and self-control. Those who belong to Christ internalize the exhibit these good qualities.
Barnabas is a Bible example of goodness. Luke says, “he was a good man” (Acts 11:24). We see his goodness in at least three ways:
(1) Generosity. When fellow Christians were in need, he sold his property and brought the proceeds to the apostles to provide for his brethren (Acts 4:23-32). Goodness motives us to be charitable in helping others.
(2) Gladness. When Barnabas came to Antioch and saw the good work Paul had accomplished, he realized it was by “the grace of God, (and) he was glad.” (Acts 11:23). Goodness is not jealous over other’s success. Goodness rejoices with those who rejoice (Rom. 12:12)
(3) Encouragement. The name Barnabas means “son of encouragement.” He encouraged the Antioch Christian “that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord.”
Our goodness ought not to be for selfish motives, forced obligation, or ungodly gain. We should be good, because God is good. Because we are led by the Spirit. Because we are called by a higher calling and nobler motives.
May our goodness be God centered. “For He satisfies the longing soul, And fills the hungry soul with goodness. (Ps 107:9)
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman