Monday, January 18, 2010
Today’s Topic: Goodness
Today’s Text: 2 Peter 1:5-8 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness;
Last Thursday we started our study of the building blocks we are given to construct a mature life that rests on the foundation of faith. The first building block we are handed is goodness. Stick with me here for a moment while we study this word. You will see an application soon.
The Greek word translated goodness in the NIV means virtue. According to the Greek dictionary it means to pursue any virtuous course of thought, feeling, or action and to have moral excellence. It comes from another Greek word which is the word for a man, or the word male. At its root is the Greek verb airo, which means to raise, elevate, and lift up.
Okay, enough grammar. What does it mean to us now? Well, here’s what I glean from the word study this morning. Goodness means that we are becoming morally excellent people who work with the strength of a man to lift heavy loads in the lives of others. Goodness involves the investment of our energy into the good of others, not just self. In fact, true goodness sacrifices the good of self for the good of others. Anything less than that could not be called virtuous. That means not only do the actions appear good, but the thoughts and feelings match the activity. From the depth of our hearts we are to add goodness to our faith as the first building block of maturity.
I am so very proud of my daughter, her husband, and his family. They are all Packer fans. I’m proud of the fan part of that fact. Let me explain what I mean by that.
My six year old grandson has decided that in the middle of this Packer family he wants to be a Viking fan. He made that choice on his own. No, I did not try to persuade him. Just ask his dad. But now that he has chosen, I have filled his room with Viking stuff. He calls me at least once during every game to tell me what he saw. He really understands the game of football.
Anyway, back to the Packer fans. Yesterday during the game against Dallas, Caleb called me. After telling me the score, he told me that every member of the Packer family wore purple and was cheering for the Vikings. One aunt even dressed her little girl in purple. His other grandpa and grandma rooted for the Vikings. Even mom and dad wore purple. WOW! What a statement of what goodness is.
I called my daughter after the game. I told her how proud I was of her for modeling true sportsmanship. But I told her more. I said that she was modeling for her son what goodness is. She had put the feelings and excitement of the other person ahead of her own feelings. Her husband’s family had modeled to Caleb what it means to sacrifice personal preferences for the sake of sharing in the excitement of another person’s choices. I told her that her activity was proof that goodness has been added to faith.
In Romans 12:15 we are told to rejoice with those who rejoice. If goodness has been added to faith this won’t have to be an act or something we pretend for the sake of appearing good. If we understand that goodness means to pursue virtue with every ounce of strength we have so we can elevate another person and lift them up, then we will become people who will sacrifice our own thoughts and feelings and act in such a way that supports others. You see, we must be fans of people first, not teams or dreams. My daughter and her husband’s family demonstrated that.
Every day we make choices to put our goals, ambitions, and dreams ahead of others. We give in very easily to the temptation to raise ourselves up ahead of others. But the Holy Spirit made no mistake when the very first building block He gave was goodness. He knows the heart of God. He knows the character of Christ. He is at work in us to produce the character of Christ. He has given us the power to put others ahead of ourselves and live virtuous lives of goodness. He has equipped us to care more about others than ourselves. He has filled us with the prospect of rejoicing when others rejoice, even when that rejoicing is contradictory to what we wanted to happen.
So no matter where you believe you are in the construction process of spiritual maturity, go back and dust off this building block. It’s easy to find. It’s the one right above the Cornerstone.