(A series about the Fruit of the Spirit, Galatians 5)
post by Eric Vorhies
If kindness is the way we act toward others, then goodness is just the way we act regardless of the presence of other people. But like kindness, for me, the struggle is real.
I know what it looks like though. We all have that one friend that would totally shock us if he/she did anything wrong — I’m looking at you, Jacob Zerkle. And, just in case you don’t, you might be that friend…or you might be really bad at choosing friends.
Frankly, I don’t know how Jacob does it. It is as if bad, mean, hateful, or selfish thoughts don’t cross his mind. But with me, horrible and nasty thoughts pop up so fast that I have to play a type of mental whack-a-mole to avoid utterly destroying my life. So, today, I want to share how I battle to be good. (Spoiler Alert: it’s by the Holy Spirit)
Okay, we have established that I have many thoughts that directly conflict with my relationship with God and my sense of morality. But as I reflect how I have changed over the years, I can narrow it done to three concepts that I believe are rooted in Scripture.
1. Take Every Thought Captive
The nature of a thought is that it is a thought. That’s it. But what we do with that thought is important. During the sermon on the mount, Jesus starts each topic with a law regarding an action, such as “do not commit adultery.” Then he called out our thoughts by letting us know that even lusting after someone is the same. In James, it says that “each person is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own evil desires. After desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin…” Be aware — having a thought is not wrong. What we do with it is where we can cross the line.
The remedy – “take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” Have a thought, give it to God. Ask Him to get rid of it. Ask Him where it came from. Ask Him what you should have been thinking. He will reveal to you what you need to hear. And over time (as long as you keep this discipline), those stupid thoughts will become fewer and your thoughts will be more in tune with the thoughts of God.
2. Stop Comparing
Look, let’s be honest, we all know someone who is a better Christian than you…and me. And that’s OK. There will always be someone better…there will always be someone worse. But goodness in your walk with Christ has nothing to do with the goodness you have or don’t have. Phil. 3:16 — “In any case, we should live up to whatever truth we have attained.” When you look around and see people are better at “being” Christians, don’t beat yourself up. Also, when you see people who are worse at it, don’t pat yourself on your back. Stop comparing with others.
The only comparison that needs to be made is the one between what you know you should do and what you actually did.
Think about that for a second.
It’s like exercising. You add weight and intensity based on where you are. You are able to achieve things that are actually obtainable. You are about to grow. More importantly, your relationship with Christ becomes more focused on your relationship with Christ and not others’ relationship with Him.
Lastly, never stop improving. Let’s stick to the exercise comparison. If you go to a gym for three years and can’t lift any more than what you did at the beginning, then what’s the point? Don’t we want a stronger relationship with Christ? A more meaningful and deeper relationship? Then never stop growing.
Eph. 4:15 — “But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into Him who is the head — Christ.”
Goodness isn’t something we have. It is something that God is. And through the Holy Spirit, we can grow in it…we can grow closer to God.