Monday, March 8, 2010


Good girl - Good Job - Be Good

How many times have I uttered those words to my children? Do they even register anymore or is it just my voice droning on in their head?

I sincerely want my kids to ‘be good’. To do the right thing even when they don’t feel like it. Even when it’s hard.

Especially when it’s hard.

To display integrity and compassion in their daily lives. To be driven by their desire to please God rather than allowing circumstances to dictate behavior. That’s how I define goodness…love in action.

I want that for my own life too.

What does it mean to be a good person? How do we measure goodness?

It’s always interesting to see what’s out there on the internet. You’re probably not surprised to learn there’s a quiz available to find out if indeed you are a good person. I took the quiz and then just for fun I took it a couple more times, changing my answers each time.

In other words I lied on the goodness quiz.

That probably isn't good.

I have to wonder though, if a person obtains a score of only 28% can that person still realistically call himself 'good' ?

And while the quiz may be flawed it did manage to hit on a lot of the ideas we associate with goodness. Honesty, keeping promises, respecting our elders, showing sensitivity to others, responding with kindness, helping people in times of distress. I think capturing the essence of goodness in words is quite difficult. Goodness is a concept measured in degrees and only God’s goodness is absolute. All other goodness is measured against this singularly perfect standard. As is true with everything important in life we've been given some instructions relating to goodness...

"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” Galatians 6:9-10 (NIV)

As I re-read these familiar verses one thing jumped out at me-

Goodness is not easy.

In fact quite often it is completely exhausting.

We're warned up front that it might make us weary but we are told not to give up. Goodness isn’t a feeling…its an action word. It is evident in how we live our lives and I've noticed that goodness is often what draws us in and makes us want to know a person better. But being good can require hard work. Sometimes actual muscle and sweat. It might mean going out of our way, taking time we don’t have, interrupting our own plans and schedule to be there for someone else, getting out our wallets, staying up extra late or getting up extra early, maybe even middle of the night stuff. I can think of many situations that call for goodness...

Moms with crying babies who could use a meal delivered along with a side helping of encouragement.

Moms with lots of kids and few resources who could use a meal and a break.

Moms with difficult teens who break their hearts, who need a cup of coffee and a listening ear

An elderly neighbor who wants to talk when I have a to- do list as long as my arm

A friend who needs a favor-again. And again. And again.

Strangers I encounter who are living on the street

Strangers I encounter in traffic, in busy parking lots, in the supermarket

Rude drivers

Rude people everywhere


Friends walking thru grief

An argument with a spouse, a parent, a sibling and how I react to someone’s anger or frustration

Requests that bombard me…for my time, my money, my prayers

Injustice the world over

Et Cetera

Every day the chance for goodness presents itself. To help, to listen, to do.

To ‘be good.’

In small ways and large. In the wider world and in my very own house. How do I respond?

Do I grow weary? Do I give up? Or will I reap a harvest at the proper time?

Do all the good you can, in all the ways you can, to all the souls you can, in every place you can, at all times.” John Wesley

This post is part of the One Word Blog Carnival…visit Bridget's blog to read more posts on this week’s word-goodness.


  1. I agree and love these words...

    Goodness is not easy.
    In fact quite often it is completely exhausting.

    Thanks for these great thoughts, Joyce.

  2. I love this post you hit it on the nail Joyce! I think being good is being selfless.Have a wonderful Tuesday!

  3. By God's measure of goodness, we all fail. By God's sacrifice of goodness, we're all allowed to pass. It's amazing, isn't it?

    Good post.

  4. Great things to think on. From my friend who comes in contact with a lot of people each day {she's a nurse}, she said she believes that people are mostly good. I think I believe that too.

    Sometimes seeing the good in others is all they need to see the excellence in themselves. It gives strength. Less 'weary'. :) Great post, my friend.

  5. This is a good thought for me today. It's easy to remind my kids to "be good" but I also need to make sure I'm also doing my best for God.

  6. Weary and good definitely do go hand in hand. But receiving a little good from someone else sure helps me keep going. I think that may be one way God encourages and empowers us to keep serving in Him.

  7. I too loved this post. It's so true and so very helpful to have someone like you to remind us all about what 'being good' entails.
    I love the definitions of 'goodness' - hadn't realized there are so many and... all too hard to do well! I liked John Wesley's quote too.
    Well done, Joyce!

  8. A very good post! I love posts that get you to thinking. Thanks for sharing!

    And thanks for the compliments on my blog header. That is actually a picture that I took in 2008 at the Evangel University here in Springfield. We missed the tulips last year, hoping to catch them this year.

    until next time... nel

  9. Yep, definitely food for thought. In fact maybe we should change that "Have a good day" to . . .
    Hope your day is full of Goodness!

    Yep, I'm going to do that!

    I do hope YOUR day is full of Goodness! :)

  10. Joyce,

    Yet the blessings that are in store for those that weary not are plenty for those that attempt to do good for others.

    Please stop by my blog today to enter in the final chances for this weeks giveaway if you have time!

    Love and Hugs ~ Kat

  11. Great post and definitely something everyone struggles with. I recently had an experience with an elderly woman in my grandma's nursing home who wanted to talk and talk and talk but I was in such a hurry! But then, I thought, how selfish am I? She sits her day after day and I cannot take time out of my busy schedule to chat with her?

  12. Goodness is true! Thankfully we don't have to achieve perfection, we just have to keep trying. Great post, Joyce!

  13. Yes God can turn all experiences into goodness. Can goodness come out of bad?, yes, for God has all the power of love and mercy and out of that comes goodness. I know that God understands that we cannot do good all alone. Your post gives us much to think about.

  14. I absolutely love this statement: "Goodness isn’t a feeling…its an action word." Great post!