It is the most wonderful time of the year! I love the holidays, and the week of Thanksgiving officially marks the start of the holiday season in my book. It is such a beautiful and refreshing thing to pause together as an entire country and truly give thanks to God for the many blessings He has given to us as individuals, as families, and as a nation. God really is good.
Before the rush of the season, let's take a moment to think about this - the concept of the goodness of God is so intriguing. In this day and age, when some are trying to say that down is up and up is down, it is hard to understand what is meant by the word "goodness." Some would argue that feelings determine what is good, and some would say that whatever the most people vote for as good wins. However, in any dictionary (and also in reality), the definition of goodness still has to do with moral purity and virtue. Good is a true standard, and a measure against which other things are judged. God Himself is Good - He is the standard of what is right and healthy and whole.
So when Jesus comes into a heart, He rights all of the wrongs, and makes things come into order. He brings satisfaction, wholeness, peace, and purpose; He infuses us with His goodness. I know that when I became a Christian, I felt complete for the first time. Nothing about me changed on the outside. I still appeared to be the same person. But on the inside, everything had changed, and I knew it. To quote a great old hymn, “My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought! My sin, not in part but in whole, was nailed to the cross and I bear it no more, praise the Lord, praise the Lord, oh my soul!”
I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
he delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant;
their faces are never covered with shame.
This poor man called, and the Lord heard him;
he saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.
Taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
Psalm 34: 4-8
God hears and answers when we cry out to Him. He delivers us from fears and anxiety. He takes away our shame. He saves us from our selfishness. In essence, He takes all of the ugliness from our fallen nature and replaces it with what is right, unbroken, and unblemished - with goodness, His goodness. Our sinful nature is put to death and we begin to walk in step with the Spirit. We experience and feel the goodness of God, and for the first time, we are able to pass on His goodness to others.
As followers of Christ and bearers of His Spirit, it is our privilege and duty to bring His goodness to our neighbors near and far. If you look at any news source you will see hundreds of images testifying to the sad state of this world. Wars, terrorism, diseases, famine, domestic violence, murder, abandonment, addiction, abuse, hedonism – the list of woes is long and painful. Before experiencing Christ, we all do things that add to the drama just because that is what everyone else is doing, and without really thinking about it. Young people drink alcohol, experiment with drugs, act rebellious, and become promiscuous because that is what the world says they should do. Couples fight, become adulterous, and divorce because that is what the world says they should do. Children whine, fight, act rebellious and greedy because no one ever challenges them to anything different or better. The acts of our sinful nature are ugly.
Jesus alone can set us aright and bring light and goodness into our lives. After personally experiencing the goodness of the Lord, it becomes our responsibility to share it with the people around us. If we have experienced the liberty and sweet freedom that comes from living within the restraints of Christianity, we must share it. It’s like tasting something delicious for the first time. Just earlier tonight I watched my baby grandson try his first strawberry, and it was so adorable to see him smile and wiggle for more. Whenever I taste something new and delicious, I immediately want to share it with my family. It is just too good to keep to myself.
In the same way, I will never forget the actual relief that I felt when I became a Christian and realized that there really was a right and wrong, and that it really did matter how I lived my life. The selfish choices I had been making before had been leaving me empty and despondent – my life was not going anywhere and it felt pretty pointless. After I met Jesus and began living to please Him, I felt terrific! It would be wrong for me to think that I am the only person in the world who would feel that way about the changes that Jesus brought to my behavior. It would be wrong for me to believe that I shouldn’t share the goodness of God because people might find His commandments restrictive or outdated. I had never felt more real or alive than I have since I met Jesus, and the same will be true for my neighbors. This is just too good to keep to ourselves.
Most people have such a misconception of Jesus and of Christianity in general. It is far from a long list of do’s and don’ts; rather, it is a living, growing relationship with our Creator and Savior. It is finally becoming the person He created us to be. In His goodness He brings freedom where we were in bondage. He brings order where we lived in chaos. He brings reality when we were trapped in deception. And through the power of the Holy Spirit we can share this wonderful goodness with the people around us.
It is not difficult. We just need to open our mouths and our lives and share the good news. It is true that people will be turned off by Christians who speak angrily, judgmentally, or condescendingly. However, it is also true that people respond to care and concern. If we take the time to make an investment in someone’s life, we can earn the right to speak the truth to that person in love. In my own experience, my Christian friend did not mock my very ungodly behavior choices or taunt me that I was going to burn in hell forever. She simply invited me into her home week after week and shared her life with me. She listened to me, taught me to study the Bible, prayed for me, and cooked for me. She was a friend to me, and I grew to love and trust her. I watched her life and could plainly see the difference between the two of us. The peace and contentment she displayed were something that I wanted; I wanted to be like her. Soon, when I was presented with the choice of salvation, I was ready. I had seen the goodness of God displayed in her life, and wanted that in my own life.
Since then, I have seen the same story unfold countless times. The goodness of God is so attractive and powerful, and when people share it, souls are changed forever. This holiday season, let's ask the Holy Spirit to develop this fruit in our lives. Let's open our hearts and homes so that many more people can taste and see that the Lord is good!
Hi! I'm Mary - mother to two wonderful grown daughters, wife to an incredible husband, and loving our life in the piney woods of Texas... (read more!)