When I first came to the United States several years ago, I got a rude culture shock. There were six of us traveling together. It was a very long journey, having arrived at JFK very early in the morning but waiting for a connection flight that did not leave until about 2pm in the afternoon. Then we had to make a connection with Greyhound to take us to our destination in Athens, Ohio. A very long journey, but that is not the story. When we arrived in Athens, we took a Taxicab that will take us to our temporary accommodation till we were able to sort out our dormitory arrangement. The very friendly taxi driver asked, “where are you folks from”? We chorused enthusiastically, “Nigeria”. If you know where I was coming from, you will understand my difficulty in understanding what he was saying. So, when he said something after we told him we were from Nigeria, there was a combination of the difficulty in figuring out what he was saying and the inexplicability of what we thought he was saying. We thought we were hearing “I heard they are really bad over there”. By the time one of us said “pardon me” three times, the man realized it was not just a case of not hearing, it was a little more than that. As if he had an eureka moment he said, “Oh, I don’t mean bad, bad; but good bad”. Let me just say, my confusion at this moment knew no bounds. It was not until much later, that I learnt that the American slang taking root at that time was to call something good, bad. With my understanding now, I have come to know that “good, bad” has some underlying connotation of street smartness, and not the normal kind of understanding as we know it.
Why am I sharing the story above? It is to say when we talk about good as one of the characteristics of the fruit of the Spirit, we are not talking of the “good, bad” kind of goodness, but the goodness that is virtuous in all circumstances. To say someone is good is to say that this person has the tendency to conform to all of God’s moral laws. Being good is to be loving, to be kind, to be a patient person, a faithful person and someone who exercises self-restraint. A good person will be tolerant, gentle, and joyous in all circumstances. Apostle Paul told Titus in his letter to him to appoint Church Elders who love what is good. He said those elders must be “hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined” – Titus 1:8. Virtuous in all circumstances. Paul also asked Titus to set an example of what is good to young men and he gave examples, “In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us” – Titus 2:7-8. When we talk about goodness, it is about attitude or character that cannot be condemned.
Living a virtuous life is not without its benefits. In fact, this is a characteristic that the Lord expects of us, for us to live a meaningful and productive life. Titus 3:14 says, “Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order to provide for urgent needs and not live unproductive lives.” The Bible described Hezekiah as a man who did what was right in the eyes of the Lord. This means he lived a life that pleased the Lord. Living a life full of virtue will always please the lord. The Bible went on to tell us in 2 Chronicles 31:20 that Hezekiah did what was “good and right and faithful before the Lord his God” and then went on to add in vs 21 that “he prospered”. When we do good and make goodness a watchword for our life attitude, God will be pleased, and we shall also prosper. Not necessarily as the world prospers, because the world’s prosperity is measured in money or material terms, but we shall prosper in the way the lord has purposed for us.
Let us make it a point that even as we pray for God’s goodness and mercy to follow us all the days of our lives, that we at the same time commit ourselves to follow goodness and live a life that is pleasing to the Lord. We must know that goodness must be completely devoid of evil – an oxymoron – because goodness and evil cannot dwell together. This is the main reason I am opposed to that kind of good that is also bad. Do not be a “bad, good” person, but a simply good person who is virtuous in all circumstances. I pray that the Lord will help our Spirit so we can live the life He has purposed for us. — Pastor Simbo Odunaiya