This past Sunday morning, my kids and I were sitting around the living room sharing prayer requests and talking. As we prepared to bow our heads, my youngest daughter asked if she could pray. I said, “Sure, sweetie!”
Now Allison can be a little spicy…you never know how much spice is gonna hitcha, but hitcha it will. So I was expecting something if not surprising, at least amusing, to come out of her beautiful little lips.
I opened us in prayer and then she shared her prayer…
“God help me beez good…”
It was followed by a request that others of the family would beez good as well…we all smiled.
My sweetheart struggles with anger, frustration, and acting out. Just like the rest of us.
We all needed that prayer.
I definitely need to pray that prayer too.
I just finished reading The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom. It’s a beautiful story…a challenging story…a story that puts my struggles in perspective.
It’s beautiful because of God in these people…in Corrie and her family and their friends.
Its’ challenging because I want so much to be like them…like Corrie ten Boom’s mother who graciously gives even when they have so little, who takes the time to reach out to those in need even though she herself is in need, who steadfastly loves God and her family and everyone around her.
I want to be like that.
I want to be good like that…not just for the sake of being good though. I don’t just want to appear good, I want to actually do good…be good for God.
How many people’s lives were touched because of the simple, loving faith of that beautiful woman?
I know sometimes stories don’t share the rough days when tempers flared or frustrations were evident, but even so, the beauty of a woman willing to love others despite her own poverty and pain…that’s glorious. That’s good.
Writing about being or doing good is always tricky…especially because I’m all about grace. I don’t want to live without grace and I want to be overflowing with it toward others.
But God does call us to do good…
And let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season we will reap,
if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone,
and especially to those who are of the household of faith. Galatians 6:9-10
Paul’s description of good, I think, is laid out in the verses before these. Verses were he shares the fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control – and in verses where he reminds us to “walk by the Spirit.” He calls us to do good, but it is with the strength of the Holy Spirit and the realization that it is not within our power to do much of anything truly good without God.
I think the good comes in…when I love well, when I speak words that encourage and edify, when I don’t sin in my anger, when I offer hospitality no matter the inconvenience, when I forgive for the millionth time…those are good things…exquisitely good. And those things…those things offered as sacrifices of praise to God…that is us loving God. That is us thanking God. That is us loving others. That is us doing good.
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.
Each of you should use whatever gift you have
to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.
If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God.
If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength
God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.
To him be the glory and power for ever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 4:8-11
Not good for good’s sake…or good so others can see that we are good…it’s good for God.
As a parent, I don’t want my children to think that they have to be good to earn love…not from me or from God. But sometimes I think that is the message I give without meaning to. But God NEVER gives that message to us.
He says, “When you were at your worst, at just the right time, I died for you.”
He says, “I love you and you are precious period.”
He says, “I forgive you.” There is no “again” at the end of that sentence, because God doesn’t keep count…I do, but He doesn’t.
My heart just leapt in my chest at that realization.
The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever.
He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to his children,
So the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.
For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.
I can’t be good. Just can’t do it. I can pray for it, but really I don’t think I can do it. But the Holy Spirit working through me can do it! He can give me the ability to love others well, to serve well, to be all those things I want to be that constitute good.
I think an appropriate list of what it means to be good is 1 Corinthians 13:1-8…how cool that those verse describe God…and God, who is love, is good is He not!
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love,
I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge,
and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains,
but have not love, I am nothing.
If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned,
but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast;
it is not arrogant or rude.
It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;
It does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends.
Today when my sweet little Allison gets home from school I’m going to talk to her about being good. But not the usual talk. You know the one, “Sweetie, can you choose to be good today? To be kind?”
I’m going to talk to her about how Jesus is the only one who can truly help us to be or do good. That I’m so proud of her for asking Him to help her. And I’m going to ask if she’ll pray with me – that we can both beez good!