Walking in the Way of Goodness

Sometime ago USA Today reported a story about two Casper, Wyoming, college students who returned a lost purse to its owner, not knowing the handbag contained her life savings.

Derek Hepner and Adam Simanton spotted the purse lying in the gutter of a street as they drove past it. Stopping to examine the bag, they pulled out a wallet and an Arizona driver’s license and immediately took the purse to thepolice.

What they didn’t see was an envelope containing $43,000 in cash that was the owner’s life savings, police Sgt. Larry Baker said. The owner had been traveling through Casper and apparently misplaced her purse during a stop.

The woman phoned Hepner on Thursday to inform him of a $200 reward for the two Casper College students. Hepner is studying criminal justice, and Simanton plans to be a lawyer.

I don’t know anything about the religious beliefs of these two students, but we can agree they did a good thing.

Yesterday, we shared some thoughts about the goodness of God. Today, consider how we can share in that God-like quality. God is good. And He desires that we be good.

The wise man exhorts us to “walk in the way of goodness” (Prov. 2:20). What does that mean? And how can we do it?

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.  “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 and 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 motivates 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 others’ success. Goodness rejoices with those who rejoice (Rom. 12:12)

(3) Encouragement. The name Barnabas means “son of encouragement.” He encouraged the Antioch Christians “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 we are led by the Spirit. Because we are called by a higher calling and nobler motives.

There’s a line in a song we hear around Christmas time, “You better be good for goodness sake! Let’s decide to be good because God is good.

–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman

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