This is a guest post by Susannah Cafardi, NCC Barracks Row Saturday Small Group Director.
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
I tried to live this out this past Thanksgiving weekend. On the upside, I had plenty of opportunities to be a blessing to those around me. There were diapers to change, dishes to wash, babies to carry, and photos to take. My parents were thrilled, and my brother was thankful. I found that looking for opportunities to bless others really can be fun and can make great memories. But, I had moments where I really struggled with my attitude, and I came home exhausted. I realized that I had walked into the weekend with self-centered desires and I hadn’t carved out sufficient quiet time (well, at least not until the buildup of sniffly toddlers, sleeping on the floor, a few social curveballs, and seven people and two cats under one roof dropped me to my knees).
While I’m thankful for the opportunity I had to serve, I hope I learned a valuable lesson. Doing good without becoming weary can only be accomplished when I am releasing my desires for acknowledgement and attention and I am not forgoing time in the Word and in prayer just because I’ve become focused on performing good actions.
I’ve struggled to write about goodness more than any of the other fruit. It seems so simple, so self-explanatory. Who can’t hear their mom’s voice echoing in their head, “Be good.” Every kid knows what it means and knows when they haven’t been.
Paul tells us that even people who have no explicit knowledge of God know right from wrong, that God has wired us to know this.
But perhaps there’s a bit more to “being good” than what we thought about as children.
When mom said, “Be good,” she usually meant, “Don’t do anything wrong.”
But being good is also about doing what is right.
When I think about goodness, I think about the person who goes back to the store clerk to apologize for being rude, the person who comes clean to their boss when they screw up, the person who serves and gives when it is inconvenient.
Now I want to be careful here because following Jesus has far too often been turned into following a list of “don’ts.” And other times we turn it into a list of “dos.”
The fact is that we aren’t and can’t be good enough for God. And we can’t be too bad for God.
Without the blood of Jesus all of our goodness is as filthy rags, but with the blood of Jesus there’s nothing that can separate us from God.
Goodness isn’t about earning our salvation. Quite the contrary: our goodness is a response to God’s grace. It is the fruit of having the Spirit of God living in us, of seeking after and pursuing God through prayer, meditation, fasting, and even simply inviting God into our everyday actions.