Saturday, 5 March 2011


What does it mean to be good? Is it simply not doing things that are wrong or is it more than that? This question comes out of a series that we are doing at church at the moment on 2 Peter 1, on characteristics that we should aspire to have.

“…make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.” 2 Peter 1:5-9

So, what is this goodness that we should seek to add to our lives? It is here listed as a virtue, which means that it can not simply be the absence of a vice. That is, goodness is not simply ‘being good’, not doing anything wrong, but rather has a proactive nature that replaces something which is bad with something desirous. Simply put, goodness is not simply the absence of badness.

We do have a model for what goodness is, and that model is Christ. When Jesus was called ‘good teacher’ he responded thus

“’Why do you call me good?’ Jesus answered. ‘No one is good—except God alone.’ ” Luke 18:19

So we are to seek to become more like God in this, to become good as God is good. Specifically the word here translated goodness is ‘αρετε’ in the Greek, which means (according to my pastor) ‘moral characteristics worthy of praise’. So we are to add to our faith moral characteristics which are worthy of praise.

Can we look at our lives at the moment and say that our character is worthy of praise, as God’s character is? I certainly can not, and it is a high thing to aim for, but that is what we are called to do. Remember that ‘with man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible’; it is only through faith that we have a chance of adding goodness to ourselves.

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