A Life of Goodness
A LIFE OF GOODNESS
Part 7 of The Wonderful Spirit-Filled Life
Peter Foxwell. The Cornerstone Church. December 31, 2017.
BIBLE READING & PRAYER: Galatians 5:22-25
From 251 to 266 AD, a terrible pandemic struck the Roman Empire. At its height, 5,000 people were dying in the city of Rome every day. Doctors, pagan priests and nobles fled infected areas in droves. But the Christians stayed. Bishop Cyprian saw the plague an opportunity for the church to give witness to love and hope they had experienced in Christ.
These early Christians expended themselves in works of mercy that simply dumbfounded the pagans. For them, God loved humanity and so did they, and they showed it through acts of compassion.
In Rome, the Christians buried not just their own, but pagans who had died without funds for a proper burial. They also supplied food for 1,500 poor on a daily basis.
In Antioch in Syria, the number of destitute persons being fed by the church had reached 3,000. Church funds were used in special cases to buy the emancipation of Christian slaves.
During the Plague in Alexandria, Egypt, when nearly everyone else fled, the early Christians risked their lives for one another by simple deeds of washing the sick, offering water and food, and consoling the dying.
Adapted from a blog post, Pandemic Love by Charles Moore.
Galatians 5:22 tells us that fruit of the Spirit is goodness. Goodness is supernatural love in action. Goodness is the mark of a genuine Christ-follower because Jesus himself went around doing good (Acts 10:38). It is also evidence that the Holy Spirit is filling and empowering and directing our lives.
Today, I'm going to create a profile of goodness. Them, we'll all know what it is. My goal is that we would continue to be a church that loves and pursues goodness.
1. GOODNESS COMES FROM GOD BECAUSE HE IS GOOD.
Psalm 119:68 reads, "You are good, and what you do is good." God does good because he is, in his very essence, good.
That's why Psalm 34:10 declares, "The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing."
When the Spirit of God is at work in our hearts, he produces goodness. It's his goodness flowing through us. We don't have to generate our own goodness.
2. GOOD SEEDS GROW INTO GOOD DEEDS.
Jesus taught this:
Luke 6:43-45 “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. 44 Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thorn bushes, or grapes from briers. 45 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of."
The Spirit of God, who is goodness, shapes our new hearts (Ezekiel 36, John 3). He plants the seeds of goodness in our hearts - stored up in our hearts - and that's where the desire/drive to do good comes from.
Good seeds grow into good deeds.
3. WE ARE DESTINED TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE.
Ephesians 2:10 teaches us this profound insight (also Titus 2:14; 3:1, 8):
"We are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."
That drive inside to do something that matters (that helps, that changes lives), that drive was put there by God. He's our designer and he designed us to do good. That's our life-purpose. We have been saved for service.
God prepared our good deeds in advance to give our lives direction. That's our destiny.
4. PEOPLE NEED OUR GOOD DEEDS.
Some people need a hand up: Acts 9:36 "In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (in Greek her name is Dorcas); she was always doing good and helping the poor."
Some people need a hand out: Ephesians 4:28 "Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful (good - agathos) with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need."
1 Timothy 6:18 "Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share."
Some people need an encouraging word: Ephesians 4:29 "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful (good = agathos) for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen."
Some people need a prayer: 1 Timothy 2:1-3 "I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good ..."
Some people need a miracle: Acts 4:8-10 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! 9 If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness (euergesia = goodness) shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, 10 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed.
Those are just five examples, but there are so many possibilities for a life of service. Wherever there's a need, there's an opportunity to do good.
The Cornerstone is filled with examples of people doing good. They've all decided that there lives have more meaning when they are serving.
We have people serving in ministries here on campus, and others serving in the community in so many different ways.
5. DOING GOOD CAN BE DRAINING.
Yes, doing good is a fruit of the Spirit. He energizes us. But caring for people can also be exhausting work. It can also be frustrating, and we can get burned out.
This is why the Lord built the principle of weekly rest and renewal into creation: the sabbath rest. If all we do is give out, we'll eventually give out. If you're feeling empty, take time to fill back up. Rest your body, your mind, your emotions. Have some fun.
Some of us, we've had enough fun, our tank is overflowing, and its time to get on the frontlines. But, where do we find the energy we need:
Keep praying for more of the Spirit's power: Colossians 1:9-10 "We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work ..."
Ask someone to encourage you to stay focused: Hebrews 10:24 "Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds."
Remember why God saved you: Titus 2:14 "To purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good."
Get a fresh vision: Galatians 6:9-10 "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers."
6. GOOD DEEDS MAKE CHRIST REAL.
At the present time in American life, we need to be careful not to alienate our neighbors or co-workers by being against everything; arguing with everyone; being self-righteous and mean-spirited.
Jesus proposed an alternative: Matthew 5:16 "Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven."
Doing good is the best witness to the reality of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 2:12 "Live such good lives among the pagans (peoples = ethnos) that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us."
Good deeds win every argument: 1 Peter 2:15 "It is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people."
The life of goodness is THE good life. It's also a beautiful life because it's exactly the kind of life of Jesus led:
Acts 10:38 "God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him."
Jesus "went around doing good." That was his life, his focus. We should copy him. Jesus was full of compassion and love. He healed, he liberated people from demon oppression. He fed the hungry. He preached good news and taught the principles of the Kingdom of God. He forgave sins. Finally he went to the cross and laid down his life for sinners like us.
We'll never be more like Jesus than when we are doing good works of loving service - in the power of the Spirit, in the way of Jesus, for the glory of God.
Let's take a moment to re-focus and to recommit to a life of good deeds.
Let's pray ....