May 8, 2009, 4:04 AM
Ever heard of a goods train? Have you ever come across a 'goods only' truck or trailer? You can't miss it, just as it says; these carriers take only goods and no passengers. All you can fill them up with is goods; what they are good at doing is to move cargo around. Interestingly, there are people like these carriers who think only in terms of doing good - and just that -as a way of life. It has become a religion with them. Their whole universe revolves around doing what is good - nothing else.
The essence of their existence is summarised in good deeds, lending a helping hand, coming to someone's assistance, making sure no one gets offended by them and the like. That's where it ends. Nothing else matters. Sadly though, this way of thinking does not go very far as it creates a feeling of self- sufficiency, of completeness, of independence from God.
To think in this manner gives us a false image of ourselves and promotes a wrong notion that we can propel ourselves into another realm that would make us think more highly of ourselves. We strive to accomplish goals that we have set ourselves, standards we would like to keep without any reference to the word of God.
Could this be ignorance? No. "For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities - His eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse." (Romans 1:20)
We are all aware of a supreme being and have come face to face with facts of His existence. He has laid down ground rules for us to abide by - a kind of road map. The one who believes just doing good would gain him/her access into everlasting life does not want to be subject to God's ultimate authority over His creation.
In the parable of the Rich man and Lazarus Jesus recounts how the rich man maltreated Lazarus when both lived on earth. "At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man's table." (Luke 16:20) This rich man had never paid Lazarus any heed, but when the roles changed, when he found himself in hell and Lazarus in heaven, he solicited help from father Abraham so
Lazarus could dip his finger in water and cool his tongue. He modelled evil. He did not have any consideration for humankind.
Goodness is a virtue all must seek to practise: "And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased." (Hebrews 13:16) "Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins." (James 4:17) The golden rule, "Do unto others as you wish that others should do unto you," promotes well-being through kind acts. Our Lord Jesus requires us to even go a step further. "But love your enemies, do good to them and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked." (Luke 6:35)
Goodness is an antecedent to our faith - a demonstration of our belief in Jesus who said: ". let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:16) We must through acts of goodness provide examples for the world around us. "In everything set them examples by doing what is good." Paul advised his disciple Timothy.
Jesus Himself went about doing good and urged his disciples to be of assistance always. "I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in. I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me." (Matthew 25:35-36) These are works of faith; done for a reason. Like in the parable of the Good Samaritan, we cannot see someone suffering or in dire need and not intervene. We ought to be instruments of God's goodness by which the world could be impacted.
Goodness is a universal language that is spoken anywhere and understood everywhere. It becomes a problem when for one reason or the other we stick to the principle or belief that all it does take to get to heaven is to do good and cut God out of it all. That would be a simplistic way to attain eternal life.
Whilst goodness should be a way of life with all of us, we must see it through the eyes of God The Almighty. Otherwise, our 'goods train' will forever remain a goods train, satisfying our ego.
During His earthly ministry, our Lord Jesus encountered a rich young ruler who strongly believed that by doing good he could gain access into heaven. In fact the question he put to Jesus betrayed him. "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" (Luke 18:18) What must you and I do to inherit everlasting life? (to be continued)