I’ve been having a conversation with one of our son’s about being good. He wants so much to do the right thing and often berates himself for not being good enough.
It’s not an uncommon mindset and many religions and traditions throughout history have focused on mankind’s ability to be good and the quantity and quality of their good works. So often we hear people commend someone they admire for being a “good person”. Yet sadly in making “being good” our goal there is also an inherent danger of comparisons, self righteous attitudes, finger pointing and judgements made about others.
When we hold to these beliefs there is also the danger that when something difficult or tragic happens to a person to draw the conclusion that unfortunate circumstances and loss are because people are flawed in some way. When we too experience suffering we can begin to ask, “What have I done wrong, or aren’t I doing enough good to deserve better than this?”
On the other end of the scale is the need for us to try and make up for our past mistakes and the hurt we may have caused. The thought is that, “If I’m only good enough and do enough “good” things I can balance out all the bad I have done in my life.”
All these “good works” however rest primarily in our limited ability and strength and leave us lacking, comparing ourselves to others and falling short of a holiness and standard of goodness that is impossible to attain on our own.
The whole point of Jesus coming to earth was to eradicate the need for anyone to be good enough. No one can do that, for we all fall short. (Romans 3:23) Instead Jesus offers to take our shortcomings and failures and to cleanse us from all our mess ups and lack of goodness. All He asks is that we stay connected to Him and allow His love to fill our hearts. As a result His goodness (which never runs out), love, peace, and joy will flood our lives on an ongoing basis. No toil on our part, just simple connection and union with Jesus. (John 15)
The simple key which I’ve been endeavouring to teach our son is that life isn’t about being good, it’s about love. When that love focus is directed to loving God first and foremost, then the goodness we so often strive to exhibit in our lives will flourish without us even trying to be good anymore. We will be good because God is good and His goodness is now who we are.
Today rather than trying to figure out how to be good, instead make love your highest goal. It will simplify everything, enable you to focus on what and who is important in your life, remove guilt and shame and produce the fruit of goodness, without all of the self reproach, striving and stress.
“Three things will last forever- faith, hope, land love – and the greatest of these is love…Let love be your highest goal.” (1 Corinthians 13:13; 14:1)
“But the fruit produced by the Holy Spirit within you is divine love in all its varied expressions: joy that overflows, peace that subdues, patience that endures, kindness in action, a life full of virtue, faith that prevails, gentleness of heart, and strength of spirit. Never set the law above these qualities, for they are meant to be limitless. (Galatians 5:22-23)
Prayer: Lord please help me to drop off the pressure and mindsets I can fall into of having to work at being good enough, when all I need do is focus on love. Thank you that when I come to you that you take all my mess up’s and shortcomings, cleanse me and declare me to be more than good enough. In Jesus name Amen.