Every good endowment and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
Many Christians think that goodness is the goal of the Christian life. Christianity becomes a set of moral principles, rules, do’s, and don’ts. This is actually an “Old Testament” view of Christianity. In the Old Testament, there were 613 “commandments,” ten of which are known as the “Ten Commandments.” The highest calling was obedience to the commandments. This led to all kinds of abuses of power, as well as fear-mongering among the people, who were “oppressed” by laws they could not remember, let alone keep.
There is an element of morality in Christianity. We certainly haven’t abandoned “The Ten Commandments.” We are still supposed to have no other gods before us, remember the Sabbath, honor our parents and not bear false witness or covet. We are not supposed to worship graven images, murder, steal, commit adultery, or take the Lord’s name in vain. But doing these “good” things is not enough. We are called to be holy, to strive not only for goodness but for godliness.
Today’s Bible quote from James 1:17 reminds us that every good thing has God as its source. Thus the motive for any good thing we do, any moral act we perform, or any commandment we keep, needs to be done with holiness as its source of motivation. When we look at the Fruit of the Spirit and consider which is the easiest to cultivate, we may think “goodness” is the “easy grab” because it is so easy to do something good each day. But if godliness and holiness are our goals, “goodness” might be the most challenging of the Fruit. Of course, there is nothing wrong with doing good. On the contrary, I would encourage each of us to set a goal to do something good for others each day. However, goodness is not the end goal. It is holiness that is the end goal.
Holiness means “set apart.” It means we set ourselves apart, not just for doing good things for one another but for glorifying Christ through our good works. It is a higher calling than just being good. It is a call to serve Christ and to work towards a oneness with Him.
The source of all goodness is God. And the end goal of our “goodness” is supposed to be salvation in God. So, as we do our good works, they are not ends in themselves, nor are they a means for personal achievement or recognition. Goodness is not just cultivated so we get along with one another better either. Goodness is supposed to lead us to Godliness. This is the end goal in life. Goodness is a means to the end, a Fruit that we need to cultivate in order to be one with God for all time.
Lord, thank You for the many good and perfect gifts that come from You (name some of them). Help me to use the gifts I have received from You so that I may help others and glorify You. Amen.
Let your good works glorify God today!
Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis is the Proistamenos of St. John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL. Fr. contributes the Prayer Team Ministry, a daily reflection, which began in February 2015. The Prayer Team now has its own dedicated website!
Fr. Stavros has produced two books, “Let All Creation Rejoice: Reflections on Advent, the Nativity and Epiphany”: “https://amzn.to/2t1rXwh and “The Road Back to Christ: Reflections on Lent, Holy Week and the Resurrection.” https://amzn.to/2WAcfG0
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