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Marriage and Family

Defining Goodness

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08/01/2011 - How do we define goodness? Usually we attribute it to something pleasant such as "good" food, a "good" job or a "good" movie. Maybe we attribute it to behavior. An obedient child is referred to as a "good" kid. Some things may be "good" for us in that they provide us with some form of benefit. I do like this definition except for the fact that what we deem beneficial is often a matter of perception. For example; if we are being reprimanded for a bad decision, we don't usually walk away saying, "That was good."

As we continue with our fight against selfishness, we must grasp goodness. In my last article, we discussed being kind. You may be thinking that this is merely a matter of wording and that I am over killing the concept of kindness. Let me argue this point; being kind is good, but being good is not always kind.

Picture a house, whether it is the one in which you live or, if you don't live in a house, picture one you may have dreamed about. Sometimes, doing what is good for a house can be temporarily destructive. To remodel and update a home, the first steps usually require a hammer and saw. Walls are knocked down, flooring ripped up and plumbing and wiring torn out. All of this is necessary for any rebuilding to occur. If this house represents our lives, then unpleasant and seemingly destructive things must often occur. Sometimes we must be broken if we are going to be improved.

After our walls are torn down, what kind of remodelers are we going to be? We have two choices. We can begin cleaning up our mess in preparation for the new construction. This is when we take control of ourselves and identify what we need to do about our circumstances in order to move forward. The other option is to become angry and bitter about the mess and at the people we feel are responsible. If we take this route, then we have chosen to become victims. We sit around complaining about the mess and waiting for someone else to deal with this "horrible" situation. Remember, because something is unpleasant does not mean that it is bad.

Now let this house represent our relationships. Neglect in a home can be very damaging with no beneficial purpose. A house that is not actively maintained quickly erodes. Please note that a house must be actively maintained. If not, shingles blow away, leaks form, pests enter and appliances break down. Our relationships are the same way. We all too often take our closest loved ones for granted. If we are not actively maintaining our relationships by giving attention, affirming, forgiving, offering grace and dealing with problems as opposed to ignoring them, then our relationships will quickly erode. Doing what is good can be hard such as disciplining kids, sacrificing personal needs and wants and giving up the idea we have a "right" to fair treatment. An absence of good does not leave things the same. An absence of good creates harm.

One final thought as we go out and attempt to do good to those we love. In doing the "hard" good thing, if it is not done with love, gentleness and compassion, you are doing no good.

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