“Since you cannot do good to all, you are to pay special attention to those who, by the accidents of time, or place, or circumstances, are brought into closer connection with you.”
-Rev Melissa Fain-
So then, let’s work for the good of all whenever we have an opportunity, and especially for those in the household of faith.
Galatians 6:10 CEB
I did not get “work” when I was a child. It all seemed the same to me. If you had to do something you didn’t want to do, that was “work.” If you enjoyed it, it was “play.” In fact, sometimes I made “work” just way too hard for my own good. I can remember in first or second grade my dad told me to clean my room. For whatever reason, I thought it was a great idea to completely empty the toy box so my sister and myself could take turns shooting toys like basketballs into the toy box. Dad was not amused to walk into our room and see a bigger mess than when he asked us to start cleaning in the first place.
Work is always towards something. For many it’s a paycheck. How many would do their job if they were told they were not going to be paid? In church, right or wrong, it happens all the time. People willingly volunteer their time and talents to reach the world beyond their doors. The writers for this very devotion volunteered their time to make this happen.
This is because the Body of Christ isn’t working towards a paycheck, they are working towards God’s Kingdom on Earth, and God’s Kingdom on Earth is good. It’s not always easy. Sometimes we argue and we don’t always get along. That’s part of being human, but when the work is good it adds to God’s created and creative order and that’s always very good.
- - -
Creative Creator of Heaven and Earth,
Help us as we work towards goodness in the world!
Rev Melissa Fain is an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ.) She currently serves as the Senior Minister at Fig Tree Christian. Her passion is new church planting and revitalization. Fig Tree is the second big church plant she has been part of. Melissa enjoys all forms of the arts, having a degree in vocal music from Kennesaw State University. She also graduated from Candler School of Theology in the Fall of 2010, and has worked in Christian settings since 1999. Melissa is a mother of two wonderful children, and the wife to a very talented illustrator.
-Brandon William Peach-
Yes, goodness and faithful love
will pursue me all the days of my life,
and I will live in the Lord’s house
as long as I live.
Psalm 23:6 CEB
The Bible is full of references to God’s goodness. God is good to all [Psalm 145:9]. Everything He made is good [Genesis 1:31]. Only God is good. [Matthew 19:16]. In the last verse of the 23rd Psalm, we learn that God’s goodness pursues us for all the days of our lives—the sense of the Hebrew meaning that His goodness is on our heels wherever we go, that it’s following us doggedly.
Goodness in this context feels like a very different type of goodness than we’re used to seeing or hearing about on a day-to-day basis. Think about the way we use the word “good.”
When I pick up my son from his grandparents’ and I ask if he was “good,” I’m really asking whether he was bad. When I say food is “good,” I’m actually saying it was somewhere in the middle of the road; not awful or amazing, but appetizing enough that I’d probably eat it again. When my manager says “looks good” about some work that I’ve done, he’s affirming that I didn’t completely screw up.
The point isn’t that we’re using the word “good” wrong on a daily basis, but rather, when we think of God’s goodness, we’ve got to recognize it for the superlative that it actually is. God’s goodness is referred to as omnibenevolence, infinitely loving and maximally good. So good that no other being could logically supersede it.
That superlative goodness is chasing you every day of your life. No matter how badly your morning might be going, no matter what temptation you might have given into in a moment of weakness, no matter how hurried you are to get the next project out the door, the one constant is that God’s goodness and His love are actively pursuing you until the day that you get to be with Him forever.
When we exhibit the fruit of goodness through the power of the Holy Spirit, we’re able to take an active role in transforming God’s creation. We can actively participate in the ushering in of His coming Kingdom. And by the grace of God, we can offer a lost world a glimpse of a good Father who has never, will never, stop pursuing them.
- - -
Lord, thank you for your goodness to me. In my pursuit of holiness, I ask that you would help me display your goodness to the world.
Brandon William Peach is, first and foremost, the husband of Kathleen O'Neill and the father of William Sean O'Neill. He is a writer with a degree in literature from Penn State University, and a frequent contributor to various blogs, magazines, and podcasts.
While his career is in marketing, Brandon's primary interests include historical Christianity, literature, art, and pacifism in practice. He lives in the heart of Amish Country in Central Pennsylvania, where "getting stuck in traffic" often means being stuck behind a horse and buggy on a windy backroad. His hobbies include reading, writing, watching good movies, cooking, and most importantly, spending time with his wife and son.
He is owned by his cat Tiger and his dog Millie.
-Rev Barbara Taylor Minton-
...examine everything carefully and hang on to what is good.
1 Thessalonians 5:21 CEB
In 1880, a baby girl came into the world full of life. Eighteen months later a devastating illness left the child both blind and deaf. Years of struggle and discouragement did not dampen the Keller’s hope for their daughter’s future. Keeping abreast of developments that pertained to their daughter’s condition, the parents made certain that Helen received the most current care. In time, with help of a dedicated governess, Helen Keller learned to communicate, graduated college, and became a world advocate for many causes, with a focus on improving the plight of the deafblind and people with other disabilities.
Helen Keller spoke out against injustices, supporting workers’ rights and laboring diligently for a woman’s right to vote. Learning of the life and work of Jesus, her biographers’ report her as saying she knew God was there, she just didn’t know God’s name.
Often in his teachings Jesus spoke of hearts that had grown dull, of people who had ears but could not hear the truth of his teachings or of people with eyes, unable to perceive the power of God in his actions. More than once Jesus concluded his teachings with a simple statement: “Let those who have ears, hear.”
Helen Keller proves with her life and her many accomplishments that one can hear and respond to God without having ears that hear or eyes that see. She also exemplifies one dedicated to a careful examination of life, hanging on to what is good, and even working for what is good and beneficial for others.
Throughout Scripture a thought prevails, an encouragement, a call for our openness to God’s activity, summed up in these verses from the Thessalonian letter. Be attentive to what God is doing. Don’t brush it off as inconsequential, but instead, “…examine everything carefully and hang on to what is good.” Examine life in a framework of faith, aware of God’s involvement.
Joseph, son of Jacob, provides an example of reframing his life to include God’s activity! Overlooking the murderous intentions of his jealous brothers who had sold him into Egyptian slavery many years earlier, Joseph simply said to them, “You planned something bad for me, but God produced something good from it, in order to save the lives of many people….” Genesis 50:20 Joseph, now the second most powerful man in Egypt, preserved the lives of his father’s descendants and found a place in Jewish tradition because he let go of bitterness and vindictiveness while hanging on to the good.
Don’t suppress the Spirit. Don’t brush off Spirit-inspired messages, but examine everything carefully and hang on to what is good. Avoid every kind of evil. ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:20-22
- - -
Lord, give us eyes to see your goodness and ears to hear your voice so that we might reflect your nature. Amen.
Rev Barbara Minton, ordained April 1, 2001, now semi-retired, gladly serves a small rural congregation in Henry County KY, Berea Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). She also volunteers in local interdenominational outreach ministries. Barbara describes herself as wife of one, mother of three, and Mamaw to eight. She enjoys journaling, which she began while living in Switzerland and Germany for 16 years. Now she will occasionally write on her blog, which she fondly entitled Muesli. http://bjm-muesli.blogspot.com/ Her hobbies include bird-watching and word-botching. She claims to get her exercise by jumping to conclusions, running at the mouth, and climbing the walls. Her partner in these adventures is Thomas, her husband of 53 years, and presently pastor of Eminence Christian Church in Eminence, KY. (When she grows up she wants to become a retreat speaker!)
-Rev Jamie Brame-
He has told you, human one, what is good and
what the Lord requires from you:
to do justice, embrace faithful love, and walk humbly with your God.
Micah 6:8 CEB
When I was a young ministerial student, this was one of my favorite texts for preaching. At first glance, it’s about behavior, and we Christians love to talk about behavior!
One of the things I like about being older is that I get to mentor young pastors. Young pastors often ask me how to get people to do certain things or be certain ways.
How about you? Is Christianity about how you act?
Doing justice is an action. Embracing faithful love and walking humbly with God are states of being, though. We go beyond behavior to actual living out of our faith with an attitude: loving God and others, and learning to be with God.
We cannot do justice properly without a close relationship with God! Having a mindset to be a just, good, loving person takes more than a decision. All of us deal with others every day: no matter how much we plan to be fair and kind and honest and loving, there’s always those people who can stop us just by their being alive.
Think about it: just drive to a grocery store parking lot and see how long it takes you to get angry at someone’s selfishness! Drive down the road and count the times you get frustrated with other drivers; and these examples don’t even require you to be face-to-face with people! What about where you work: are you fortunate enough to work with saints?
In college, I met an old man who had marched with Dr. Martin Luther King in all the big civil rights marches. I asked him, “How did you stand being non-violent? How were you able to take being spit on, beaten, cursed, and treated worse than a dog?” “Young man, we didn’t just go and march: everyone was supposed to come and be part of worship, prayer, and Bible study. We didn’t march unless we had spent time with God!”
We want to be good. We want to be just. To do these things takes embracing a daily walk with God, spending actual time with just God and you, often listening instead of talking. Over time, goodness, justice, and love can become who you are. Maybe Micah should have said “walk humbly with your God” first? No: we learn best what we need to do by failing at the good things and turning to God for help. Besides: sometimes, our doing justice actually succeeds!
- - -
Good and loving God, help us to walk with you each day, learning to love, and learning to be your hands and feet and voices to the world around us, in Jesus name, amen
Rev Jamie Brame is the Program Director at Christmount Conference and Retreat Center, located in Black Mountain, NC. He has served there for over 27 years, working with both youth and adults. His interests include the study of spirituality and prayer, with an emphasis on eastern spirituality and its application in a Christian context. In addition to his ministerial vocation, he is also a musician who performs with his wife, Renae. He holds an M. Div. from Duke Divinity School and B.A. from Atlantic Christian College (now Barton College.)