My Prayer for the New Year: Goodness
Have you ever noticed how in many different kinds of books and movies, that there is always a recurring theme? In fact, it almost seems like this theme is in EVERY book and movie and story ever told. That theme is Good versus EVIL. Good versus bad. We love our heroes, our defenders for good!
This was something I've been thinking about for a long time, good versus evil. It's in all my favorite books. You can find the theme in biographies as well as in fantasy. You can find it in mysteries and as well as in Syfy. You can find this theme everywhere. When you're not reading a book, maybe you're watching TV and even in the news... there's the story of good versus evil that plays out there too. Sometimes it seems like the evil is winning, but then (maybe in the untold, less dramatic story that doesn't make it into the news) good does happen and good does win out. Think of all the "My faith in humanity is restored" stories you hear.
When you are bogged down and overwhelmed by the evil in the news, it's the positive story that acts as a warm blanket for our souls. I feel like most of humanity gravitates towards the positive, even when we're bogged down in the negative. Positive versus negative. Good versus evil.
When we celebrate the good stories, we celebrate people's intentional kindness. That's kind of how this word "goodness" is defined. It sides on the side of kindness. Yet, God calls us deeper than just simply being kind to the world around us. He calls us to be intrinsically good.
Ephesians 5:1-21 is an interesting little passage. In this passage, you will find a short list of sins and heart attitudes that have no place in the life of the believer. This passage (as well as multiple other passages in the Bible) tell us that there's a sort of code to live by. If we're imitating God (and he's the King of all that is good, just ask David-- or read the Book of Psalms!), we should be displaying qualities of God (see Galatians 5:22-23), both in our actions as well as in our hearts and minds. We're called to not be divided. We're called to not say one thing and do another. We're called to take on the attributes of God.
Do you ever stop and think about how kind and good Jesus was while he walked around this earth? Do you ever think about his three-year ministry? He spent a lot of time with people, doing good. He'd go and talk to the outcasts, the lepers, the prostitutes, the forgotten, the abandoned, and he would heal them, restoring them to their families. He'd go to them and acknowledge them. He'd welcome them into his own family. He even had a disciple that He KNEW would betray Him, and yet He still loved Judas! He did all this good, He healed all these people, He forgave all of their sins, and He did it because it's exactly who He is. He calls us to go into the world and show the world, Jesus. That means that we're supposed to imitate all the good that He did, with the heart that He has, while pointing the way to Him.
If you look up the word "Goodness" in the concordance, you'll find that the particular word used in Galatians 5:22-23 is used in only four places in the whole bible (two of which are mentioned here, Galatians 5:22 and Ephesians 5:9). The thing I noticed about this word is that in each reference, it talks about how we relate to one another.
We can only be good and do good when we reflect the goodness of God. Do we reflect the same "good" that Jesus is to the world around us?
Lord, I pray that you would overwhelm my heart and mind with instances of Your goodness. Help me to be so overwhelmed that I can't escape this knowledge and I can't help but praise You. Show me how to reflect that same goodness to the world around me. Help me to love the things You love, see the things You see and do the things You do. In Your name, Amen.