We have started to build on something in our Winter Bible Study, as we discover the character of God we see it is a process, we don’t get there overnight. We can understand something but putting it into action is another endeavor altogether. Knowing what is good and doing what is good are two different things. Doing the right thing is something that can be challenging. Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
We are looking at Galatians 5:19-23 and for the next few weeks, we will focus on the last part of verse 22 and 23, one word at a time.
Galatians 5:22-23; But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
We started with Love; God’s love for us, not our love for Him. He initiated it by removing the obstacles that we put in the way of our relationship with Him. That results in joy and peace, conditions of our heart, something we know inside that shows through our actions and words. That should help us to be patient and kind, we can extend patience and kindness without necessarily guiding people to what is right or wrong.
In some ways being patient and kind implies acceptance of someone’s behavior. That is not it at all. To extend patience and kindness is to tolerate behavior for the opportunity to help direct things in a direction that is more beneficial, goodness.
Let’s see if I can cut to the chase; have we ever decided to do something without permission with the intent of asking for forgiveness later? We see it all around us, decisions made for the benefit of one that cost others. When, truth be told, if they exercised a little patience and grace the outcome might have been different. Patience and grace show up as respect. When we respect others we don’t need to ask for forgiveness, we didn’t make the questionable decision that we hoped would work out. We waited and looked harder for an opportunity to be a blessing to others. There is always a choice.
Good, what is good? Again, as we can be impatient and unkind, we can know what is good but choose to do the opposite. When you think of goodness we have to think of right and wrong. We start to see that our choices reflect an understanding or lack, of what is right in God’s eyes.
We all do it, we make decisions that we know are not right, but it is what we want to do, so we do it. We all make choices that we know are not beneficial for our Christian witnes, but we figure we can handle the consequences, so we do it. There is an advertising campaign that encourages us to “Just Do It”. My response is, just do what?
If we are being truthful with ourselves, we have gone against what we know to be right or good. That makes us human. That doesn’t however release us from being good. Goodness is something that requires first an understanding of the situation, a knowledge of the right choice and the courage, wisdom and strength to choose it. Like I said, as we move along and build we start to see the magnitude of the task. Reflecting the character of God is not something we can accomplish without effort, practice and understanding. It is a lot like racing, we need to start somewhere and build off the knowledge we gain and lessons we learn.
In each of us is an understanding of what is good, and what is right. We are taught from an early age what the right behavior is in a certain situation. That is one of the purposes of education is to teach us how we should view and process the things around us. The difficulty with education today is we have forgotten to include God’s view on goodness. Without that we have no hope of truly learning what is good.
The key is nothing is good apart from God. Without His presence and input we are not capable of determining good. I would encourage each of us to start a devotion time that includes reading and studying God’s word. Then we can learn what is truly good.
Romans 12:2; NLT; Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
We learn what God’s view of things is by understanding, studying and learning His word. Then we will think differently. Then we will see the contrast between what we have called good and what God views as good.
If you need some suggestions of where to start, begin with the Gospel of John. If you need a bible let me know and we will get one out to you. There are many online resources and podcasts to listen to, but it is good to have some understanding of the truth before you select one. If you are unsure, ask and I will guide you. I am looking forward to helping you discover and understand our Good, Good Father.
Philippians 4:8-9a; NLT; And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me