Goodness and doing good is a quality of God that is described in the Bible as one of the “Fruit of the Spirit.” Many today would say that a person does not have to have God in their life in order to be good. The Bible teaches us, however, that without God, all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away (Isaiah 64:6). For those who are united with Jesus, however, Ephesians 2:10 becomes their reality: For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. How can we strengthen goodness in our life? In his book, Echoes of Heaven, Mark Jones offers us some insights about this. Try the following “exercises,” and see if they help you grow into becoming the kind of good person God desires of you.
Find strength in Christ: Hebrews 2:18 says, Because [Jesus] himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. Hebrews tells us that because Jesus understands temptation—because he has been there--he will give us the strength we need to battle temptation successfully. However, we have to long for character; we have to pray daily for the strength to overcome.
Immerse yourself in God’s Word: King David wrote in Psalm 119:11, I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. It’s not enough to have the Bible on the coffee table; we need to have it in our hearts. God’s Word is fundamental to overcoming temptation, but we have to know it. In 2 Timothy 3:16-17, Paul writes, All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
Build some accountability into your life: Most of us struggle with accountability because, we don’t want anybody to know who we really are. We’re afraid people would be repulsed if they knew what we were really like on the inside. But we need fellow Christians who can come alongside us and help us stay strong. James 5:16 says, Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. We need one or two friends of the same sex to whom we can open up about our struggles, helping us keep on the right path.
Remember the devastating consequences of immorality: Numbers 32:23 says, Be sure that your sin will find you out. Sometimes we sin and get away with it for a while. But it comes out eventually. Before you take the risk, consider the devastating consequences to your relationships, health, reputation, and spiritual integrity. Garrison Keillor told about a man who considered an affair with a coworker, until he realized “his sin would be no more secret than an earthquake!” It would ruin him in so many ways.
Remember that failure need not be final: First John 1:9 reminds us, If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. Maybe you have totally trashed your character. Maybe you have really blown it, not just privately but publicly, and you are wondering if you can ever recover. Our behavior has consequences, but God promises that, if you really want to be forgiven, and you are willing to change, he is eager to forgive. Commit to building godly character. He’s a God of second chances.
Growing in goodness with you,