Friday, August 10, 2018

A Dog's eye: the measure of a good man part 3

It's easy to be good to your friends, and by being good to them, it's easy for them to reciprocate.

Strangers are a slightly more difficult proposition, because although a bare minimum of courtesy and politeness can be managed by most people, we are generally less tolerant with, and certainly less trusting of people we do not know. Our own insecurities cause us to be wary of strangers and disinclined to get too involved with them.

Some people will help strangers; others will not, as we see in the story Jesus told about the Good Samaritan. The Bible says in Galatians that we should "not grow weary while doing good for in due season we will reap a reward if we do not lose heart. Therefore as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially those who are of the household of faith." This is what I believe God expects of us and although it won't make us good, it will make us better.

The third group of people by whom our treatment of them will demonstrate our "goodness" is our enemies. Most of us would deny having any enemies, but let us say that anytime somebody does you wrong, or does somebody you know wrong, they become your enemy. It is in how we deal with this group of people that the rubber meets the road. In group one, there will be Christians and non-Christians. In group two you might expect to find more Christians than non-Christians, but in reality there will be a mix. In group three, you will be struggling to find anybody at all who relates well to their enemies.

Let's remember Jesus' words: "If you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even tax collectors and sinners do the same? And if your greet the brethren only, what more do you do than others?"

The 12th chapter of Romans is arguably the best snapshot of Godly
behaviour in the Bible. It should be mandatory reading for everyone. Paul writes, "Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good." (v. 21) "If your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him drink." (v.18) "If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men." (v.18) Measure yourself against this criteria and you will quickly be forced to agree that you, and everyone else, falls short of the glory of God. There are no "good" men. Even Jesus, when addressed as Good Teacher, rejected this appellation by saying that only God is good.

If this sounds too hard, that's because it is. It's too hard for you, for me, for anyone. It's really not possible for men to live this way except they be filled with the Holy Spirit. Finally, remember this, even if you pass this test and can be good to not only your friends, but also to strangers and enemies, you still won't be anywhere near as good as God.

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