Goodness Defined

Our family recently saw the new movie from the classic book, Les Miserables.  It doesn’t sound like a great movie. Who wants to see a movie about miserable lives?  We all know stories, perhaps our own, of miserable lives.  But the whole theme of the movie is about a changed life and how it affects other lives.  A life totally changed through God’s grace.  It is also a story about good vs. evil and the results of living a good life and one that is evil.

Throughout history we see and experience evil people who do evil things.  It is pretty easy to define evil by their actions. But how do we define good?  What does that look like? In Les Miserables we see goodness shown through grace and forgiveness when silver is stolen, mercy and financial provision for a poor child who has lost her mother and kindness to save a young man’s life from certain death. These are all good actions produced from a changed life. What is goodness?  Webster’s defines good as “a favorable character, true, honorable, commendable, kind, benevolent, loyal and right.”

God is called good.  The psalmist says of God in Psalm 119:68 “you are good and do good.”  Jesus calls himself good, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”  Titus 3:4-5 says, “But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us…”

The Bible gives us many examples of goodness and what it looks like.  Here are a few:

Being generous and giving to others: “They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share.” 1 Timothy 6:18

Overcoming evil in our lives:  “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:21

Loving your enemies: “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.” Luke 6:27

Being thankful:  “It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to your name, O Most High.” Psalm 92:1

Being a godly wife:   “She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.” Proverbs 31:12

Obeying authorities and rulers in our lives:  “For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.” 1 Peter 2:15

With a new year comes new ideals, new resolutions, a fresh start.  Every new year brings a list of things we would like to change in our lives, but real change comes from within.  The only way we can truly change is through knowing Jesus Christ and His power to change lives.

This year I want to ask myself, “do my actions show a changed life to a hurting world?” like in the movie Les Miserables? Am I showing goodness to others? What good can I do for others this week and this year?  Who needs to see the goodness of God through me?