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Thursday, February 28, 2013

What Is Good?

Galatians 6:9 (ESV) 9 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

Okay, so we are supposed to do good but what is that? Can we really have a definition of what doing good actually is?

Some will say doing good is helping others. Yes, that is good. Many people need help. God has called us to the task of helping others no matter what their situation may be. I am distressed when Christians decide to condemn others when they really need help. They condemn prostitutes and shut them out of  their churches. They rail against drinking with such vehemence that no alcoholic would dare think the church would help. Helping people means you have to do hard things. It may mean confronting someone you love about his sin. It may mean withdrawing fellowship from someone who will not repent. It may mean cleaning up the alcoholic and walking with him through numerous failures. It may be showing a prostitute the love of Jesus rather than what she has been selling as love.

In the beginning God created all things good.

Genesis 1:31 (ESV) 31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

We do good when we join God is setting things to the way He intended them to be. Thus, we disciple people to know and obey God because that is what He intended for His people. All of our teaching and healing joins God in setting things back to His intention. Our quiet time each day keeps us the way He intended. Leading others to Christ heals the relationship between them and God. This is the relationship He intended to have with them.

Do you remember when the rich, young ruler called Jesus "good?" Remember how Jesus responded.

Luke 18:19 (ESV) 19 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.

The young man wasn't simply saying that Jesus did good, he was saying that Jesus was good. The full implication of this is that Jesus is the Messiah. He is the One who is setting things back to the way that God intended. God is the only One good for He is the only One who is in His full intention. Jesus wasn't denying that He was good. He was making an important statement about what good really is.

So, my understanding of good is setting or keeping things as God intended. Why would I ever get weary of this? Because I am trying to do this work of God on my own!

Thus, Paul told believers:

Philippians 2:13 (ESV) 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

God must work within us if we are to continue doing good.

Now, isn't this how God intended things to be?


Anonymous said...

For .....

The use of "for" like it being used in Phil 2:13, is not simply, "because", rather it is denoting the thing that comes after it, is a more significant or overarching truth. The thing or part before it, could be a truth, too, like in Heb 11:6 - "And without faith it is impossible to please God, for .........."; or it could be an exhortation, like in this case- in Phil 2:12, we are exhorted to work out our salvation with "fear and trembling".  Understanding the syntax of the text, here, in my view, the call here, is not that we are not to effort or try to work hard at good work.  

Of course, relying on our self-effort can only bring us so far, FOR what human effort can accomplished is so small compared with what God can do (ah, the use of "for" in this sentence, is having that conjunctive purpose I have just explained - to denote a more significant truth that we are so limited compared to God who is omnipotent).

To hit at making effort, when the call to work, in the preceding verse, v12, was with emphasis, seems not in order. Was there no emphasis in verse 12? Yes, there was; the emphasis was in the opening of that verse 12 - "Therefore".  Therefore, ...... continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling (NIV).

In fact, the use of both "therefore" and "for" here, was to doubly emphasize the need for us to work out our salvation with "fear and trembling", in v12.  The earlier verses to v12, led to the "therefore"; and it included the stating of Jesus had humbled Himself and became obedient to death, even death on a cross. Knowing what Jesus had done and sacrificed, so that we could enter into salvation, "therefore, work out our salvation ......" - the first emphasis. 

We can more easily see the emphasis by v13, for the call in v12, if we, and we can, paraphrase the connection ("for" is what we called conjunctive, serving to join), in this way: Since it is God who works in you (not anyone else),...., according to His good purpose (NIV)/pleasure, work out your salvation with fear and trembling.


Anonymous said...

Cont. From above

That we are weary from good work (let's not be weary - Gal 6:9) of course, can be due to various factors.  For example, Moses was at one point doing the work of judging, but it was a mammoth task that would surely wear Moses down if he was to preside over all hearings of the people, humanly exhausting; and his father-in-law advised him to appoint others to preside over cases, and he, Moses, to take the more difficult cases.  Many works are good, "logos-ly speaking", but it does not mean we can have the time, effort and resource to do them all, and to do them without end. Some good work needs us working with other people, and much needs the Spirit of God to come in, so that pleasing or pristine result, can achieved. 

Of course, you correctly pointed that only God is truly good, and so, good or not good, has to be viewed from that perspective, and that is the perspective of what God wants or desires; What God wants or desires can only be good, FOR God is good.  And who knows the mind of God? Scripture said it is the Spirit of God; and so, be led by the Spirit is the best.

"But I don't feel led, how?" We can wait, but it is not we be wholly idle, doing nothing at all; like what is suggested by some (overly grace preachers), to just bask in grace; effort not, do not, anything! Not wanting to dwell in details, on how believers are to live (Phil 2:12 says, to work out our salvation with fear and trembling - a general prescription!), I will just say we cannot be pleasing to God, if there is no exercise of faith at all, in our life, because without faith it is impossible to please God.  Faith needs to be exercised, or I say, our faith needs to be operative. Non-operative faith is dead faith, such will not please God.  So, if there is no operative faith at all, it will not do; do fall back to the Word to work on some logos will/desire of God. As you do that, pray for Him to meet you, and to lead you. Where do you think God is more likely to "meet up" with you; in your engaging of good work or evil deed? What would be in accordance to His purpose/pleasure; good or evil? Plain lazy or wholly idle, is it in accordance to His purpose/pleasure? 

Anthony Chia, high.expressions