Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States

Goodness: A Reflection of God

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"For You Lord are good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You" (Psalm 86:5).

It is important as we continue on in our addressing of the fruits of the spirit, to remember what is implied by the word "fruit". It is a seed, an initial beginning that is given to us and up to us to plant it, nurture it, allow it to grow and reproduce. A fruit is first a trial then a triumph if one makes the most out of their life.

This is different than a God given gift in which lies a talent or particular desirable human characteristic that requires only being tapped into for its use.

The fruit of "goodness" is a fruit with many far reaching sprouts...

"As we have therefore the opportunity, let us do good unto all men" (Galatians 6:10).

We are instructed to do good to all people. This does not mean "to pay back" a wrong done to you with another wrong. If someone decides they are not going to speak to you, should you not speak to them either? If someone steals your money, do you steal it back? If someone tells a lie against you, do you tell something bad even if it is the truth against them? Did this manner of behavior ever instill goodness in a person?

What makes a person good? What helps a person "stay on the good side" of goodness? We are told the truly good persevering person is...

" a tree planted by the rivers of water..." (Psalms 1:3).

The Holy Bible uses many illustrations to teach us the good in a person must be allowed to grow, must be nurtured, must gain strength, becomes a stronghold and must be protected. Certainly, the best in life may not be that which comes easily. The flowering rose bud is protected by its sharp thorns. The sweetness of honey is defended by the sting of a bee.

Goodness at all times conquers all. Goodness is God-like so we can be assured of its fortitude in our lives. Can you ever remember a time in your life when goodness did not ultimately win out? The old adage of if you are rejected for your goodness you will eventually be accepted for it is certainly true. If you are shunned because of your goodness, because you hold steadfast to your beliefs, your Coptic Church, your faithfulness to put God first in your life you will ultimately be respected for those beliefs if you act according to them rather than allude to them.

If you are put to trial and take on the fruit of goodness, you will triumph. It is as they say...first the (rugged ways of the) cross then the crown.

Tertullian (c. 211) wrote, "In short, what patriarch, what prophet, what Levite, what priest, or what leader—or at a later period, what apostle, preacher of the Gospel, or bishop—do you ever find wearing a crown? I do not think that even the temple of God itself was crowned. Neither was the Ark of the Covenant, not the Tabernacle of Witness."

"Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good" (Romans 12:21).

St. Paul resonated the effects of goodness in his life...

"I have fought a good fight..." (II Timothy 4:7).

What did St. Paul’s reference to goodness and a good fight mean in this Holy Scripture? A good fight meant the harder St. Paul fought for that which he believed in, the stronger his trust and belief in the Lord Jesus Christ became. A good fight increases courage by letting us face the things within us we fear most.

"...I have finished the race, I have kept the faith" (II Timothy 4:7).

A good fight helps us conquer what we fear the most within us. St. Matthew (5:44) instructs...

"...bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you" (Matthew5:44).

It has often been said through the ages that good men are not as good as often thought and few men are as bad as their enemies imagine. This is certainly something to contemplate on when evaluating the actions of and labeling others.

Rather the focus should be on us, standing for something good, standing in the goodness of the Lord Jesus Christ, and desiring the eternal goodness of Heaven.

It is my prayer that as St. Paul taught the churches in Galatia that we all strive to live a fruitful life of goodness and that we...

"...not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Ttherefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially those who are of the household of faith" (Galatians 6:9-10).

Bishop Youssef
Bishop, Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States

Table 1: Christian Considerations

I enjoy popularity before goodness...Matthew 19:30
Expensive clothes help me express myself...Matthew 6:21
I am ashamed of my parent's income status...I Timothy 6:10
My social friends make fun of Divine Liturgy...I John 3:13
Did God ever lie to persuade others?Titus 1:2
Does God know needs in a contemporary world?Matthew 6:8
The Lord Jesus Christ is called "Good Shepherd"...John 10:14-16

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