I have become increasingly aware that just because one has a great education does not make him or her flawless in the use of a word. We often are clueless concerning how many shades of meaning can be applied. Me too!
The word good is among the unique words in the English language that is applied in a variety of senses. It can be used as an adjective (descriptive) adverb (where, when, how) or noun (person, place, or thing). It more commonly portrays a positive feeling about something or someone, although, it is used occasionally when speaking against a negative outcome, e.g., not good.
Quite often when you speak to someone about their spiritual commitment to God they respond, “I am a ‘good’ person.” My question is “Why do you call yourself good?” Maybe you are involved in several charitable causes; you are a community volunteer; you are a social and community advocate; or you are a kind and generous person. In other words, you achieve many good things.
Although these are all examples of good acts, there is one noisy hiccup in believing you are good because of what you accomplish or what you do. The written Word tells us “There is none good but God.” (Mark 10:18; Luke: 18:19)
This may seem like a contradiction since God in the beginning “saw that everything He created ‘was good’.” Man and woman were created in the “image of God.”
If we fast forward in the story beyond God’s six days of creation, we see that His human creations disobeyed a direct command that resulted in a spiritual change between God and man. Immediately, there was also a spiritual change in the soul of mankind.
Previously innocent, mankind inherited the sentence of death. This sentence came as a package deal and included pouches of character defects that alienate him and her from a good and perfect God. These became embedded in the soul of human creations and interfere with God’s life purpose for each of us. Examples of some of these secret defects are:
To restore a perfect relationship with God will require that mankind find acceptance and rest in Him as their standard of good. God offers us the blessing of restoration through His Son. He brings light that overcomes those secret things that lurk in our soul. God’s restoration brings benefits: eternal love, blessings, forgiveness, and grace (favor).
Here is one of God’s blessings and thoughts toward all who read this:
“May the Lord bless you and keep you.
May the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious unto you.
May the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”
God is good all the time, and apart from true devotion to God, there is no true good. Cling to The Good!
One of the timeless classics of children’s stories is the tale of a wooden marionette named Pinocchio who wanted to be a human boy. Although some of us might remember the animated Disney film version, the book was written by an Italian author, Carlo Lorenzini (C. Collodi, pen name) in 1883 ¹
This remarkably creative story includes lessons on several topics that are thorns in the flesh among children and adults: lying, disobedience, and disrespect for parents.
For those of us who may have seen the film in later years, the most memorable was Pinocchio’s public humiliation for lying and deceitfulness. His nose grew longer every time he told a lie. Can you imagine if this became a “universal” law of consequence for everyone who told a lie? I can only envision the eruption within our society.
Lying is a lethal and prominent factor in our daily lives. Both the Webster and Bible definition include: “the intent to speak untruth, mislead and deceive.”
A lie can be a half-truth (the origin in the garden), an evasive answer (Cain & Abel), a deliberate lie (Jacob and his father’s blessing), or misrepresentation (Gehazi and Naaman). These brief Biblical examples of types of lies are similarly repeated in our daily lives. Even followers of truth can get caught in the web of untruth.
On the other side of that coin are the promises of God:
Since we are guaranteed that the promises He made are always “Yes” and “Amen” (2 Corinthians 1:20), there is no need to engage in manipulation, deception or lying.
The promises are open to everyone who:
You are not a wooden marionette who is required to perform for money, manipulate a situation, falsify information, or deceive others to achieve your goal. A life that rests on the multiple promises of God is a life dependent upon the energies and resources of God.
¹ Collodi, C. 1883. “Le Adventure di Pinocchio.” Canada: Toronto Public Library
Negative, dismal, and unwholesome circumstances swirl around us like an endless video, reminiscent of a lion stalking its prey. Television, radio, your iPhone, newspapers, other print and social media, daily lay out the darkest sides of life. It seems as if they are competing with one another to see who can win the gold star for divulging the most horrific events or conditions.
For many of us, these types of reports induce adverse physical and emotional reactions: elevation of blood pressure, heart irregularities, skin reactions, hair loss, fear, depression, crying, and anger, to name a few.
During my college years, I remember reading an allegorical novel by Franz Kafka called The Metamorphosis.¹ Although what occurs to the character in the story is impossible (he turns into a giant insect), it expresses an exaggerated account of what happened to one man who is overcome by the events of life.
Peter, one of the twelve disciples of Jesus, walked on water until he looked around at the circumstances (the boisterous waves and strong winds), then he began to sink. (Matthew 14: 29-30)
These constant bombardments of ominous reports seem to be ongoing and almost impossible to escape, yet there is an antibody to stand against the sickening affects of these attacks.
Joy is one of the greatest antidotes to this seemingly torrential onslaught of
unfavorable and toxic circumstances. Expressing joy when you seem to have stepped into that bottomless pit may be difficult for some. You may be rather stoic or reluctant to express emotion, but if you can release your joy, the results will be heartwarming and pleasant. Some may have a perception that singing is joy. But singing, dancing, or shouting is merely the outward, emotional expression of joy. Joy is a fruit of the spirit and flows from within you.
David wrote 73 of our treasured Psalms. There were no limits to the communication of joy in his writings. Some were sung to the accompaniment of stringed instruments, some expressed victory or a prayer, and many were tender sentiments of friendship or expressions of repentance. Psalms written by others, expressed praise, thanksgiving, and adoration to God.
David’s son, Solomon, composed 3,000 proverbs, and his songs numbered 1,005. It is recorded that he wrote about life experiences and love, cedar trees, animals, creeping things, and fishes. (I Kings 5:12-13).
Paul and Silas were stripped, beaten, and thrown into jail. One might have thought them to be lunatics, since their response to such cruel treatment was to sing hymns and pray. They released their joy and God gave them strength. Also, they were released from the bonds of prison. (Acts 16:25-27)
If you should have a moment of joy and you don’t want to share it with others, your garage or walk-in closet may become a temporary joy shop until you overcome your shyness to openly express your joyful feelings.
Contrary to some misguided non-churchgoers, all Christians are not legalists and “religious sour grapes.” We do know how to laugh and how to party in a Christian setting. Some of us really know how to dance before the Lord!
Many of us like to listen to jazz, and others of us are inspired by contemporary, gospel and country music, produced by some amazing Christian artists. Frequently, we are very passionate about sports and different teams, e.g. Dodgers, Lakers, Rams, Kings, etc. Soccer is also another favorite, and of course, we love our pets!
The Book of Proverbs tells us: “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones” (Proverbs 17:22). If you can regularly stir up your joy, you can create a new spiritual video to neutralize the effects of that incessant, irritating, negative life video.
¹ Franz Kafka., The Metamorphosis. Kurt Wolff Verlag Leipzig (German 1915.)