Growing Goodness at Home

Sylvia Stewart

"Uncle John was a good man!" I said to myself. I had just learned that he had passed into God's presence. "I hope people will say that of me when my time comes. 'She was a good woman!'"

Being a good person has many components. In defining goodness, The American College Dictionary uses these three terms: "moral excellence," "kindness" and "generosity."[1]

boysmilingTruthfulness:

A person of moral excellence is truthful in word and in actions. "Just the facts, ma'am!" was a line in an early detective mystery series, and that defines truth pretty well. To speak truly, one should not add any embellishments to the facts or leave any details out. To live truly is to leave no discrepancy between who you really are and who people think you are. Our actions should agree with what we say, and what we say should line up with how we act. In this day of situation ethics, teaching our children about truth--and modeling it--is imperative.

In the early days of America, the sale of thousands of cattle or the purchase of hundreds of acres of land was sealed with a handshake and a man's word. To call a man a liar precipitated a fight. Now it takes several lawyers to write a contract and decipher the fine print so that neither party is in jeopardy. Truth has gone out the window!

In Psalm 51:6, David said, "Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place." Without truth in our heart of hearts, where only God sees us, there will be no truth in our outward actions and speech. If we want our children to grow into adults of moral excellence, we need to teach them about truth and model it in our every action and in everything we say.

Kindness:

Titus exhorted the older women in the church to teach younger women to be kind (Titus 2:5). Believers should "be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you" (Ephesians 4:32). We have done nothing to merit God's favor, but He was kind, tenderhearted toward us, willing to forgive the gross offenses we committed against Him. Tenderheartedness toward the dependent--those who are ill, weak children, helpless animals--should be a flag flying above the character of a "good" man or woman.

Generosity:

Jesus kept all the commandments of the lawThe "Rich Young Ruler" in Mark 10:17-22 told Jesus that, in spiritual zeal, he had kept all the commandments of the Jewish Law from his youth. He was able to recognize Jesus as God because he called Him "good." However, when Jesus told him to sell everything he had and give the money to the poor he left in sadness because he was very wealthy. He found it difficult, if not impossible, to be generous.

Modeling generosity with our money, our possessions and our time will help our children and grandchildren to understand the value of being a generous person. Telling them to be generous will have no weight if we don't show them by our example.

Teaching means instructing our children and reprimanding their errors. Modeling involves showing them how to be good by our example. Teaching and modeling truthfulness, kindness and generosity will help us to grow goodness at home.


[1] The American College Dictionary (New York: Random House, n.d.).

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