22 May 2008

Goodness, Tipping the Scales

(graphic from FotoSearch.com)


Here is a term that is much misunderstood in modern culture. Our concept of goodness is so poor--"poor" meaning that we not only have a bad understanding of the term, but also that our bad understanding is utterly destitute. It lacks the richness of the true meaning. Today we tend to think of "goodness" as the ability to better rationalize our sin to ourselves than that of our neighbor. Pause to think on that for a moment. What I mean is, we see other's failures (moral or otherwise) as their true character flaws and our own missteps as merely products of some uncontrollable force at work upon us. ("Well, I am very stressed out today and that's why I...") The sentence is completed with some sin or failure. And what we complete the sentence with might justify or excuse some truly moral failure or we might impoverish our souls even further by only considering a deficiency in terms of cultural standards (which are extremely lower that the standards of true goodness). Our mess-ups (sin) are not due to deep character flaws (in our minds), but others...well, of course, they just are that way. Though we don't think of it this way, we believe that they deserve our judgment--without a thought that they might have "mitigating circumstances" similar to the ones that we apply to ourselves. It's so easy to tip the scales and think of oneself as good...or at least, good enough...or, if not that, at least more good than someone we can think of. Hitler will do if no one else comes to mind. And, voilĂ ! We blow off any further introspection (and quench the Holy Spirit) because we are conveniently "good" in our own eyes.

Yes, I can blog on how this is sadly the case in general...But the truth is, I who find the speck in the world's eye, do not have to look far to find the log in my own.

It might be something simple. I can't stand the way people drive. The rest of us are just different looking traffic cones for them to mindlessly and dangerously zoom around. They carelessly take my life and those of my children for granted because...they want to get to the red light ahead of us 5 seconds before I do. (OK, ending my rant here...) They are clearly indifferent, disrespectful and immature. Of course, when I'm in a hurry, it's because...I have a good reason. Hmmm...see the mindset? See the presumption of "badness" on the other and "goodness" on myself--for roughly the same behavior? Imagine when you apply that to even bigger issues of life. Say, someone who spoke very harshly to your child and upset him. Or when a family deeply hurts you...again...and again...leaving you in confusion and pain. Or...

If we are so prone to misunderstand goodness, what is it? To answer that question, I highly recommend reading "The Holiness of God" by R. C. Sproul. (It's on of my top ten favorite books of all time.) But here, I'd like to explore goodness a bit as it relates to being a godly woman. So, to the Scriptures we go...

To be continued on the next post...We'll explore the Treasure Box: Psalm 23:6; 27:13; 31:19

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