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Goodness

“And as for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bring forth fruit with patience.”
Luke 8:15

This verse from the Parable of the Sower (Luke 8:5-15) gives us a clue about the character of a true Christian as one who listens to God—the source of all goodness. In fact, Jesus Himself tells us (Matthew 19:17) that God alone is good and that the good way of life is obedience to God’s will. The ability to obey is itself a gift from God given to us in Holy Baptism. In the service of baptism, we promise “to follow and obey [Jesus] as [our] Lord” and we ask God to “fill [those being baptized] with your holy and life giving Spirit.” Finally we pray, “Sustain [those being baptized], O Lord, in your Holy Spirit. Give them an inquiring and discerning heart, the courage to will and to persevere, a spirit to know and love you, and the gift of joy and wonder in all your works.” (BCP pp.303-308)

Thus, both the New Testament and our Book of Common Prayer present us with a “Spirit-created and Spirit-endowed community, depending entirely upon the resources of God’s grace in Christ.”[1] Rooted in this understanding, C.S. Lewis could say that “[e]ven the best Christian that ever lived is not acting on his own steam—he is only nourishing or protecting a life he could never have acquired by his own efforts. So a Christian is not a person who never goes wrong, but a person who is enabled to repent and get up and begin over again after each stumble—because the Christ-life is inside, repairing them all the time, enabling a repeat (in some degree) of the kind of voluntary death which Christ himself carried out.” Therefore a Christian “does not think God will love us because we are good, but that God will make us good because he loves us.”[2]

As we move through this Lenten season, pray that God may open your eyes to see the evidence of His love for you in your life—to see His goodness—and to see the good person you are becoming as God’s love takes root; for He has promised that “His goodness and mercy shall follow [you] all the days of [your] life.” (Psalm 23:6)

[1] (The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, Vol. 4 R-Z, Abingdon Press, 1962, p.436) 
[2] (Mere Christianity, The Macmillan Company, New York, 1952, p.49) (Emphasis mine)
The Rev. John R. Bentley, Jr.
Pastoral Associate
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