Ever think much about the quality of “goodness”? It’s always sounded really vanilla and fuzzy to me, but recently I listened to a message my friend Heather Zempel preached on this fruit of the Spirit. I was both convicted and encouraged (the sign of a great sermon!).
She was clear, making sure her audience understood that our salvation is not dependent on our goodness, but on the goodness of God. We don’t do good things to get God’s approval, but we do good things because we’ve already experienced His approval.
The Fruit of the Spirit aren’t just habits for us to engage in, but qualities of God’s character to bless us…for us to soak in first, and that then to ooze out of us, like a sponge soaking up water and then being wrung out.
Goodness isn’t just an inward quality. As Heather says,
“Goodness love in action – strategically pushing back the darkness of the world to allow the light of the goodness of God to shine in.”
We talk a lot about the importance of grace, and living into our identity as the beloved which is crucial, but we need to remember that’s not the whole story. In Acts 10:38 it says, “Jesus went about DOING good.”
In Matthew 25 Jesus tells the story of the servants investing their talents. The refrain He uses is, “Well DONE my good and faithful servant.” He doesn’t say “Well KNOWN…” or “Well INTENDED…”
“Obedience isn’t the means of our salvation but it is a means of our transformation.”
Goodness in action can be overwhelming though. Often we think about the poverty, the conflict, the injustices in the world and we experience compassion fatigue. It’s just too much to do! But the good news is that God doesn’t ask us to change the world, He just asks us to look at what He’s given us and where He’s put us. To soak up His goodness and share it with others.
So maybe today, ask, what has God given you? What resources, relationships, passions, abilities?
And then ask, “God how do I push back darkness in my corner of the world with what you’ve entrusted to me?”
Maybe you can tutor, like my son-in-law does for inmates at San Quentin prison, or in an under-resourced part of your city.
Maybe you can open your home like some friends of ours did for years, creating a downstairs apartment for missionaries on furlough and others in need.
Maybe you can provide counsel and connections for someone looking for a job.
Me? I always think I should be doing something bigger and more dramatic, but I’m reminded “Do not despise the day of small things.”(Zechariah 4:10) So I’m doing a very small thing.
6K is the average distance that people in Africa have to walk for water. On World Water Day, I’ll be joining thousands of people across neighborhoods, city streets, and country roads running 6 Kilometers (3.72 miles) for children in Africa. If you want, you can donate here!
What are some ideas you have of using what God has entrusted to you?