Summary: Series of 9 sermons for Advent on the fruits of the spirit
3rd Midweek Advent Service December 18, 2002
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Be Prepared for Christ’s Coming with Goodness
I. Goodness according to God’s standard
II. Goodness displayed in our lives
Dear Brothers & Sisters in Christ;
Have you been a good little boy or girl? This is the question that most children hear from Santa Claus and others at this time of the year. How one answers that question supposedly determines the quantity and quality of gifts that will be received. Since most of us, children and adults alike, probably think that we have been good, we would expect to receive some decent things for Christmas.
However, what is important is how other people would answer this question for us. Do our parents think we have been good? Do our spouses think we have been good? Do our children think we have been good? Do our bosses think we have been good? Do our customers think we have been good? The number and quality of gifts we receive depends more upon how these people answer the question about our being good or not.
Tonight we especially want to hear God’s answer to the question. Does he think we have been good? Judging from the value of his gift to us, his own Son, It would appear that he answers this question favorably. But at the same time, the necessity of his having to give us this gift leads us to conclude that he answers this question in the negative. Goodness is what God wants to see in our lives, as a fruit of the Spirit. True goodness is what our God can give us through Christ, our Savior. Keeping this in mind, let us BE PREPARED FOR CHRIST’S COMING WITH GOODNESS.
1. Goodness according to God’s standard.
The first thing that we need to do is determine what is good according to God’s standard.
When Santa asks children whether or not they have been good, his question is based upon human observation. People usually conclude that they are good on the basis of comparison. Children think they obey their parents as well as or better than other children do. So they think they are good. Husbands or wives think they treat their spouses as well as or better than others do. So they think they are good. We often use such comparisons in our dealings with others. Since we treat our teachers, workers, bosses, friends, relatives, customers, and others as well as or better than they treat us or others treat them, we think that we are good.
In other words, to be good by human standards doesn’t mean that we have to be perfect. Since it only means that we be as good as or better than others, most of us feel that we pass the test and are good. Also, most others would probably agree with our assessment and say that on a scale of one to ten, we fall somewhere between five and nine, and thus are good enough to deserve something good for Christmas. Our behavior maybe hasn’t earned us diamonds, but at least we will get something gold plated. Judged on the basis of human standards, we have displayed enough goodness to warrant something being placed under the tree.
But how do we stand if we are judged on the basis of God’s standards? His standards are far different than the world’s. He doesn’t evaluate goodness by comparing us with other people. He says simply that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). In an even more clear condemnation the Psalm writer says, “There is no one who does good” (Psalm 14:1).
God’s standard of goodness is based on one thing and one thing only, and that is his own holiness and perfection. If we are to be good in his eyes, then we are told to “Be perfect. . . as your heavenly Father Is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). Regardless of how good we might appear to be by the world’s standards, we don’t live up to God’s standards of goodness. We don’t deserve any gift from him for Christmas.
But the good news of Christmas is that God gave us a gift anyway. In fact, he gave us the greatest gift that we could possibly receive. He gave us his Son, our Savior. The gifts that we receive from others might be very nice, but eventually they will break or wear out or go out of style. In fact, by next Christmas most of what we receive this year will rarely or never be used, worn, or played with anymore. God’s gift is different. It comes with a lifetime guarantee—in fact, with an eternal lifetime guarantee. The forgiveness that the Savior earned will never cease to be needed in this life. His victory over the devil will never be reversed. The Savior’s suffering, death, and resurrection will never go out of style.