Remember the old saying from the Disney movie, Bambi, by Thumper’s mom? It goes like this, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.” I always hated getting that thrown in my face when I was a kid. (Or even now, it comes to mind when I catch myself about to say something and need a refresher.) Honestly, I find myself thinking and saying that to my kids daily. There’s no way I was like that as a kid, right?
I can remember one specific time when a kid at school was messing with a friend of mine. My friend would just let it happen, but one day I finally said something to the kid. Was it kind? No. Did he deserve it? In my mind, yes. I can remember vividly getting in trouble and having the explanation, “He was rude, so I stood up for my friend.” My teacher then countered, “Standing up for someone does not consist of putting someone else down.” Ouch. Why are teachers so smart?
Isn’t that how we wish everyone treated each other? With respect instead of rudeness. With goodness instead of ugliness. What would it look like to live out the word goodness in every aspect of our daily lives? It’s something that we’re encouraged to do. Not just one of those, “Hey, you should try this” kind of thing, it was one of the last things Peter encouraged us to do.
We read in 2 Peter 1:5-7:
“For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.”
The word goodness here translated from the Greek word arete which can be translated to the phrase moral excellence. That’s powerful. We need to add to our faith, to our lives, moral excellence. Simply putting it, goodness is treating people with a selfless motive. Putting others first. Using words of kindness. Or, as Thumper’s mom said, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.”
I believe two things need to happen:
However, followers of Jesus can mess this up. Many of us are more concerned with how many people agree with us, or how many likes we get on a social media post, than how we are making people feel with our actions and words. Still, understanding the Goodness of God is not the answer to the equation; it’s the foundation that can influence our actions.
Many times, it’s tough for us to understand the goodness of God. Maybe a loved one just passed after years of suffering. Maybe we just lost our job. Maybe our marriage is ending. Maybe we are sick of the injustice in the world.
Our current circumstances do not dictate the Goodness of God.
It’s understandable to struggle with seeing God’s goodness in the middle of pain or suffering. Sometimes we need to focus on something else. Sometimes we need to look past our current reality into something larger.
Remembering the promises of God helps us recognize His goodness.
It may seem impossible in the middle of the hurt, but when we can remember one of the most well known verses, John 3:16…
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only son, that whoever believes in Him, will not die, but will have eternal life.”
We see pure goodness. We were created from the goodness of the heart of God. When we understand this, it leads to…
When your life is filled with goodness, others around you benefit. Not actions of selfishness. Not actions with ulterior motives. Simple actions of goodness to others.
Goodness isn’t a “recommendation,” it’s a necessary characteristic of all people so that we may experience authentic community.
How do we do this?
Honestly, this isn’t some profound answer that is about to blow your mind. It may make you roll your eyes because of the simplicity. PRACTICE.
Add goodness to your arsenal of interaction.
Not just to those close friends and family members. Give goodness to all you interact with during your day. Why? Because they were created by the same God that created you.
We’re all unworthy of God’s love, yet He loves us regardless.
Because of that, let’s show goodness to others around us without having to find multiple reasons they deserve it.
In Matthew 16:15, Jesus asks His disciples…
“Who do you say that I am?”
We all say who Jesus is by the goodness we show to others. By the moral excellence, we show others.
Add goodness to your arsenal of interaction.
Maybe by making this simple addition, people’s lives will be changed by the goodness that we otehrs show. Life change leads to world change. That’s what Jesus was looking for, right?
Lead Pastor, Southside Peachtree City