Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Doing Good

I had a great conversation with a friend today. It was over an hour long, so I obviously can’t hit it all on this post, but let me share one of the things that real struck me. It’s not something I haven’t thought about before, but I’m not sure I’ve thought about it this way (at least not for awhile).

It revolves around this idea of “doing good”. I often hear Christians (and others) talk about just doing the right thing – or if their talking in spiritual terms – doing what God wants them to do.

Certainly the Bible does say we should do good things. The Book of James says faith without action is dead (James 2:17). Hebrews tells us to “encourage each other towards outbursts of love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24). First John teaches, “…let us stop just saying we love each other; let us really show it by our actions” (1 John 3:18).

Yet, so many people I talk with seem to be lost when it comes to knowing what they should be doing. Here’s where I think we miss it – it’s NOT about a checklist; it’s about a relationship. Said another way, I don’t think God just wants us to come up with our own list of good things to do and then one-by-one do them and check them off and feel better about ourselves. Granted, that would probably be much easier, but it misses the whole point the Bible makes about being in relationship with God and each other.

The kicker is that relationships are more difficult (and they don’t operate on checklists). They’re very dynamic! The same is true in our relationship with God, it’s not just a list of things to do and not do, it’s about spending time with Him and getting to know Him (and the primary ways we do this is through reading the Bible and prayer).

I believe the “good things” we do are actually meant to be the by-product of our relationship with God. The closer I get to God, the more godly I become (in my thoughts, words and actions). Said another way, the more like God I become, the more “good things” I will do – naturally, not based on some checklist.

Our focus should not be on coming up with a list of good things to do. Our focus should be on spending more time with God. This allows Him to transform our hearts to be more like His heart. The result – we will do the things God would do – the good things - if He were still here in human form (which, by the way, I think He is still here on earth working through those who choose to follow Him).

So, away with the checklist, dive into the relationship. The “good things” to do will follow – naturally and relationally!


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