Friday, October 27, 2006

Honor of Humanity Part 11 - Goodness

This is my personal summary of the preaching of Rev.Dr.Stephen Tong on his apologetics series on The Honor of Humanity Part 11 on 15th October 2006
Today goodness is often linked with stupidity while wisdom is associated with evil. But Jesus links goodness with wisdom where he says we are to be pure as doves and shrewd as serpents. Socrates, Plato and Aristotle all believe that a wise person must be an ethical person.

Old proverb says that a child’s motive is pure. Meng Zi says that men are born good. Only Adam has perfect purity at creation and the rest of us are born sinful. But the image of God’s goodness still resides in us. With every generation of children, the Lord reminds us that we have lost much of our purity as we grow up.

What is good?

Every philosopher proposes that there is the highest good. How do we reach the ultimate good? Is this just an abstract ideal? Every culture has this goal but has not achieved it. Every philosophy gives this concept but does not explain it. Only when we return to the Scriptures can we find the answer. This is not something that exists in the abstract only, or something that we hope to achieve. But it is something that is already there and it propels us forward to seek what is good.

Its essence is in God Himself. God is good, holy and just. God is the subjectivity of Life, of Truth, of Goodness, of Righteousness in Person. God made us in His image, so the goodness of God in us becomes the motivation to push us forward and also our goal. So the Source and the Destination is the same point. He is the Source and the Goal. He is the Power that propels us forward and is also our Ideal that we try to reach. He is the Alpha and the Omega. God’s goodness becomes the reason we are seeking good.

The Ultimate Good is the state where nothing can be better. But today we do not do good works with this motivation. We frequently do goodness for future profit. Some French philosophers say that those who treat goodness not as the motive in itself, but as a means to an end, their actions cannot be considered true goodness.

The Bible tells us that God looks not at the external but the internal. If we do good to be seen by others and not by God, we will not be rewarded by God. A person who truly wants to do good works and does it without recognition and even receives persecution is satisfied when he can do good works because his life is already linked with goodness. When Jesus sacrifices Himself, He has done the greatest good. Nobody understands Him and God forsook Him. And He continued to do good.

The book of Micah shows us what is good. “Oh man, God already told you what is good. Act justly, love mercy, be humble and walk with your Lord.” A person who does this reaches the goal God set for him.

Who is the person who does good?

A good person is not self-centered and does not do thing according to self-interests.
When it comes to issue of profit and loss, he would not be thinking of himself first. He would not be the first to run into profit and the run away from trouble. When there is difficulty, he is willing to go forward first. When there is benefit, he is willing to let others go first. A good person is not a person who makes use of others.

A good person is one who loves peace and will avoid conflicts. There are people who like to fight over very trivial things. True goodness will give way to peace. True goodness would not fight for things that are not worthwhile. There are things we ought to fight for. But within areas where we can give way, we should be forbearing.

A good person is one who will not take revenge. If we use the same attitude to repay others, we will lower our ethical standard. We should not use others’ method to treat them. A good person prefers to accept loss than to condescend to a lower standard. Abraham is such a person. He has a great character in the way he dealt with Lot regarding the quarrel between their servants. The things God has prepared for us cannot be taken away by others. So we should not fight with despicable people the things they want.

A good person is one who will continue to do good although he has not seen the results.
Paul says not to be weary in doing good because when the time comes we will receive our reward. But today we only do a little and yet we want great return. This is not doing good. This is the mark of greed.

Since we have been made in the image of God, what are we like today? Are we doing good based on God’s demand? When we are satisfied just being one with goodness, we are walking with God. Jesus said we are to do good works before men so that when they see our good deeds, they will give glory to God in heaven.


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