The business of being a good person is a worthy pursuit. We desire goodness in others especially when they are dealing with us. We should try to be good people ourselves and show that quality to others when we deal with them.
Goodness speaks to the quality of our hearts. While one may be able to fake some characteristics it is difficult to fake being good because it originates from our own spirit or heart. If the heart is bad, goodness cannot flow. Paul wrote that it is because of a bad heart that God gives some up to a life of sinfulness (Romans 1:24). Jesus says that what comes out of the heart corrupts or defiles a person (Mark 7:21). It is impossible to have a truly good man with a bad heart.
Convicted criminal Al Capone of Chicago was known to give money to the needy and buy milk for school children. Yet Capone is commonly believed to have ordered the infamous Valentine’s Day Massacre in 1929 in which seven members of a competing gang were gunned down execution style. A façade of goodness will not cover a truly corrupt heart.
A person controlled by a good heart produces good works. That was Paul’s contention in Galatians 5:16-25. He argues that godly person is driven by a godly spirit which produces good in a person’s life. Qualities such as love, joy, peace, patience and more naturally flow from a person with a good heart or spirit. That person is not controlled by what he wants to do (the flesh) but by what he should do (the spirit).
A man’s heart can change, sometimes drastically. Some will say that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But in the presence of Jesus’ love all things are possible. Consider the people of Corinth. “Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).
But before that change can come, people must come to the Lord in humble submission and obedience. I really like Jesus’ comforting words in Matthew 11:28.
“Come unto me all who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
For the one who wants to leave the corruption of the world and find true goodness there is but one source and that is Jesus. For the one who desires to be truly good there is one teacher, Jesus. For the one who wants to be known as a good man or good woman, there is only one example, Jesus.
Are you willing to surrender to him?