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by Jacob Ninan

Goodness is a condition of the heart. It is not the same as doing good deeds. 'Good deeds' do not necessarily come from good hearts. A good heart, however, gives birth only to good deeds, simply because it is good, and not because the one who is blessed by those good deeds deserves them. God is good, and out of His heart proceed good and perfect gifts (Jas.1:7). He loves to do mighty things for the eternal benefit of those whose hearts are totally His (2Ch.16:9). But His goodness is not limited to such people. He sends His rain to bless the evil and the unrighteous too (Mt.5:45).

If this appears to be unreasonable to us, that God should should show His goodness to ungodly people, it would only indicate that our minds have not yet been renewed to partake of God's goodness. We may have progressed a great deal, from just loving ourselves to loving our brothers too. But it may be that we are still able to love only those who love us. In that case, our love is far from being divine.

If the evil in others brings out evil from us, then that clearly shows that we have not become good in our hearts. The congenial company of our brothers does not often manage to reveal to us what is in our hearts. But when 'those who are outside' deal with us in an unrighteous, evil way, we can even think that it is right and proper to show some hardness to them or to 'give them a cold shoulder' -justifying ourselves by saying that we belong to a different company than they. But the change in the tone of our voice and and in the expression on our face at such times clearly betray the fact that we have run out of goodness - because our so-called goodness was all along just a humanly manufactured product. It was not divine. And yet we expect that people should be drawn to God by our witness!

If Jesus had come only with truth, and not with grace as well, who would have been able to bear the truth? But it is grace that draws us to the truth and it is the goodness of God that leads us to repentance (Jn.1:14,17;Ro.2:4).

It is inevitable that some should get offended at the truth which they see and hear from us. But it is quite another matter if they are offended because of our coldness or rudeness (2Co.2:15,16; Lk.17:1,2).

God certainly does make a distinction between His children and the others, in pouring out His blessings. But this is not because of any partiality or favouritism on His part. It is the natural result of His children having fellowship with Him that they receive manifold blessings that others miss. In the same way, we too enter into a depth of fellowship with our brothers and sisters which is not possible to have with unconverted people. But when we are cold towards unbelievers, it could be due to spiritual pride; and then they would be right in accusing us of having a 'holier than thou' attitude.

It is so very easy for us to forget that we all have the same wretched flesh that the ungodly and the sinners have, and that it is only through God's grace that we have been saved at all. How merciful God has been and still is towards us! What a depth there is to the goodness of God! What a great deal of that goodness we have yet to partake of! May we then pursue after it then, with all our heart.

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