December 22, 2003
Encouragement for Today
The Meaning of Goodness
"The fruit of the Spirit is …goodness…" Galatians 5:22
Of all the Christmases that Mike Wekall remembers, his seventh stands out from all the rest. Mike was the fifth of six Wekall children. As with any child, December ushered in the anticipation of new toys, freshly baked goodies, glittering decorations, and time off from school. But one week before Christmas, Mike’s parents called the children into the den.
"Kids, I’ve have some bad news for you," Mr. Wekall said, barely able to look his children in the eye. "As you know, things have been pretty tight at work this year. As a matter of fact, we are going to have to file bankruptcy, so we won’t have Christmas this year. I’m sorry. Maybe we can make it up to you next year." Then he quietly walked out of the room.
The children just sat there for a while in silence. Mike thought to himself, "What does he mean ‘we won’t have Christmas’? Does that mean I’ve been bad and Santa isn’t going to come? And what is bankruptcy?"
It was a confusing time for little Mike, but one thing became perfectly clear on Christmas morning - Christmas had not come to the Wekall house. No presents nestled under a tree, and the aroma of a roasting turkey did not come from the kitchen. The family did, however, go off to church that crisp, cold morning. When they arrived at church, all the other children were sporting new clothes and chattering about what they had found under their trees.
"Hey, Mike, what’d you get?" one asked.
"Nothin’. We didn’t have Christmas at our house. We’ve having a bankruptcy."
"What’s wrong? Have you been too bad to get anything? Didn’t you even get a few switches?"
Feeling rather blue, the family of eight went home for a lunch of lima beans and hammocks. About an hour later, the door bell rang. "Maybe it is Santa after all," Mike thought as he ran to the door. Standing in the doorway wasn’t Santa, but it was the Bosky family, all ten of them. Each of the eight children had smiles on their faces and two gifts in their hands. Mr. and Mrs. Bosky held a turkey dinner with all the trimmings.
As it turned out, the eight Bosky children went home from church and told their parents about how the Wekalls weren’t having Christmas this year. Seeing how they had been so richly blessed, the children decided to pick two of their toys and wrap them up for the Wekalls. Mom and Dad joined in and brought gifts for the parents. Even though Mrs. Bosky had Christmas dinner all choreographed for her own dining room, she gathered up the food in boxes and baskets to share with a family who needed it more.
Mike is now over forty years old, but he still gets tears in his eyes when he shares this story. "It was the best Christmas I have ever had," he told me. "The Spirit of God showed me that Christmas wasn’t about getting presents but about giving and caring for others. It is about showing goodness toward other people. Every year, I tell this story to someone, because it exemplifies how Christ gave so freely of Himself for us."
That is how we exemplify goodness. I had always thought that the word "goodness" in Galatians 5:23 meant, being good or good behavior. Then I looked up the Greek word, "agathosune" and found that it means a goodness that does good toward other people. It’s not so much about being good as it is about doing good.
(This story was taken from Being a Great Mom, Raising Great Kids by Sharon Jaynes.)
My Prayer for today:
Dear Lord, show me where I can do good toward someone in need today - whether it is a hug, a meal, a financial gift, a kind word, or something much more substantial. Help me to hear your voice and obey – to reach out and to bring in. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Get the name of a needy family from your church and buy Christmas presents for them.
Help an elderly person in your neighborhood decorate for Christmas and then help take the decorations down.
Sponsor a child for Operation Christmas Child or Project Angel Tree.
Read the story of the Good Samaritan found in Luke 10: 30-32.
What caused the Samaritan to be called good?
What did he do for the man who was injured?
Describe the men who passed them by.
Which man would you more likely emulate?
What was Jesus’ command at the end of his parable?
Galatians 6:2 Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
Matthew 25:35-40 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.' "Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?' "The King will reply, `I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'
1 Timothy 5:24 The sins of some men are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them; the sins of others trail behind them. In the same way, good deeds are obvious, and even those that are not cannot be hidden.
1 Timothy 6:18, 19 Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.
Celebrating a Christ Centered Christmas by Sharon Jaynes
For Those Who Hurt by Mary Southerland
Radically Obedient, Radically Blessed by Lysa TerKeurst