Devotionals

I Can't Do Goodness
3/12/2012 12:00:01 AM by: Charlotte S. Snead

This meditation is on the fruit of “goodness.”

If you have been attentive, the list of fruit we are considering throughout our MOPS year is a list of Biblical fruits of the Spirit from the New Testament book of Galatians, the fifth chapter.

Whether you are a Christian, a Jew, a Muslim, a Mormon, a Hindu or an unbeliever, however, we would all acknowledge that this list is a good list of character traits for moms. These are character traits we should strive to attain to be better mothers and wives wouldn’t you agree?

“Goodness” comes from a Greek word—ag-ath-o-soo-nay—meaning virtue or beneficence. Webster’s defines goodness as the state or quality of being good; moral excellence, or virtue; kindness or generosity; excellence of quality—such as good workmanship

And beneficence as the doing of good, active goodness or kindness, charity, related to benefits, beneficiary of a will.

When a certain man approached Jesus in Matthew 19, verse 18, he called him “Good Master,” and asked him what good thing he had to do to attain eternal life.

Jesus responded by asking him why he called him good, since no one is good, save only God, and then laid claim to deity by answering the question and referring him back to God’s laws as revealed in the Old Testament.

This reasoning brings us into a quandary, because throughout the New Testament it is revealed that no man could keep the law—its standards were so high that every man failed to keep it, save Jesus Himself who lived a sinless life precisely because He was God in the flesh. The rest of us, born, as it were of sin-filled humanity, are doomed to failure. Moreover Jesus raised the bar: “ . . . the law says,” He would say, “ . . . but I say:”—do not commit adultery, do not lust in your heart;  do not kill, but do not call your brother a fool.

Good grief, if no man could achieve the standards of the law, how can any of us ever hope to attain to the even higher standards He requires? If going one mile kills us, how can we go the next mile? If loving our brother is tough, how can He expect us to love our enemies and forgive those who abuse us?

And that is precisely the point: we cannot. Paul says the law is the schoolmaster that leads us to Christ. The Jew was supposed to look at the law and say: “I cannot do that! I need divine forgiveness. I need a Savior! Help— Someone save me?”  The Jew had to offer blood sacrifices, the sacrifices of animals, which would cover his sins until a Perfect Lamb would take away and totally remove his sins—that Perfect Lamb is the Lamb of God, the God-Man, Jesus Christ, called God’s Lamb, Who gave Himself on the Cross. No man could take His life, He said. Unless He had laid it down, no man could have taken it—and we have instances in Scripture of His walking through hostile crowds and no man could lay a hand on Him. Even in the garden when they came to seize Him, they fell back and could not. If He had not allowed Himself to be taken, the guards could not have seized Him. But He did allow it. He had studied the Old Testament prophecies, and He knew He had to suffer and die, and shed His blood to purchase our forgiveness—substituting the death of the only perfect man for all of us, sinful men that we are.

The list of virtues we are studying this year likewise should make us realize that we cannot attain these high standards of and by ourselves. Only God is good, Jesus said, so any goodness—or all the other virtues: love, joy, peace, patience, we have studied—can only come from God. If God Himself does not dwell in us, by His Spirit (these are called the fruits of the Spirit, and they grow as we are filled with God’s Spirit), then we cannot ever hope to attain these good qualities.

If you find yourself a complete failure at manifesting these virtues in your life, if you feel guilt at your total failure to be a good wife and mother, perhaps you do not really know God, perhaps His Spirit does not dwell in you. If that is the case, I will be glad to pray with anyone privately, and we will watch God change that! Some of us are growing and we are somewhere along the way, not perfectly demonstrating these characteristics in our every day life, but doing better and better at it as we grow up. Please don’t judge us, we are works in progress! But if you do not know God, I hope and pray you will come to the end of your rope, give up and admit: I cannot do this; I need a Savior, and let one of the Team or your discussion group leader share with you how to do that.


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