A building on Chicago's Southwest Side that contains a fire extinguisher manufacturing business went up in flames late Thursday (3/19/15), prompting a hazardous materials response that required more than 150 firefighters. A portion of the building…collapsed under the intense flames. The fire ultimately elevated to three alarms, requiring the help of 156 firefighters and 26 pieces of equipment. …A fire official said getting enough water to the structure proved difficult. "We had one engine feed another engine to another engine until we got water on the fire," said 1st Deputy Fire Commissioner Charles Stewart. (NBC News Chicago)
The irony is great--a building designed to manufacture fire extinguishers made no provision for putting out its own fire! The Bible says something similar about our own spiritual condition. READ Ga. 6:1. “Watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.”
Watch yourself, the Bible warns. If you catch on fire, you need a plan for the flames to be extinguished. If life is overwhelming, the Fruit of the Spirit through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit will keep you in peace, fill you with joy, keep you rooted in the goodness of God. How to not let the drama of life burn you down? You allow the Spirit to instill within you a godly character, including goodness. “Watch yourself” is the purpose for Paul telling us about the fruit of the Spirit. Don’t let yourself catch on fire.
Yesterday the Killam family said good-by to Grace. I’ve known the Killams my entire life. As I was preparing for the service I thought through what I most admire about the Killams and Grace. You know what it is: peace and contentment. I’ve never known Grace to panic, to get caught up in drama. Some of you need to learn that lesson, the drama that so easily entangles. The fruit of the Spirit creates in you stability because you have the character of Christ himself, stability. The Fire of Life will not overwhelm you. The Fruit of the Spirit is the fire extinguisher to make it through life with excellence. Our mission as a church family is for each person to grow in the Lord and to share with others that what we have in Christ is for them too. And the Fruit of the Spirit is the basis for both…. We change, and our message to the world is that they can live safely from the fires of life, too. I want people to have what I have, and what I have is the Holy Spirit changing me to become more like Christ.
Today we emphasize the Fruit of Goodness. Goodness goes beyond doing good things. Some people are recognized to be good, that is not a statement of what they do, but who they are… a good person, a high character person. The pure motivation for doing good in the world is not to earn salvation, build a reputation, getting credit, drawing attention to myself, inner pride. The good we do is a response to the transforming work the Spirit of goodness creating a new you into a good person, a right person with God, pure, holy. For five years I was a chaplain doing funerals about once a week with the vast majority being non-church people. In that 5-6 year period I had around 300 funerals. In at least 100 of those funerals, as I met with the family, I was told what a good person they were, and in context they said this as the basis for how they were sure their loved one was going to go to heaven…. I make no judgment on anybody’s eternal soul, and I certainly did not take that opportunity to correct the families in the middle of their grief, but this I know: we cannot earn our way to heaven by doing good things. What is true: we do good as an expression of a right relationship with Jesus. Through the Spirit you become a good person ~ the character of goodness, pure, holy…God is good.
Our greatest example of goodness is found in Jesus Christ. Acts 10:37-38 describes the role of goodness in the life of Christ: READ. When I was a kid, one of the songs I used to sing in this church with my father was titled, “He Went About Doing Good”
1. When Our Lord was here, our Savior dear,
He gladdened each neighborhood;
For the Bible tells, the message spells,
“He went about doing good”
(chorus) He went about doing good,
And helping where’er He could;
Our example is He, And Like Him we should be,
Who went about doing good.
2. It was love revealed When the lame he healed,
The blinded one made to see;
When he raised the dead, The hung’ring fed,
The Demon possessed set free. (chorus)
What we so much appreciate about Jesus is far more than what he does for us, it is knowing him for his goodness. Not only WHAT he does, but HOW he does it, out of a spirit of love, a spirit of goodness, a spirit of peace…We can give a cup of water to the thirsty as a duty, but how much more to give a cup of water in a spirit of love, a spirit of goodness…
As opportunity arises, we are to do good especially to fellow believers. READ Gal. 6:10. We are called to do good works, but the good is an expression of who we are in Christ. Goodness is instilled through the Spirit.
“Let us not become weary in doing good” the Bible says in Gal. 6:9. The reason it is important for acts of goodness to be an expression of who we are through the spirit is precisely so we do not become weary.
You’ve heard it said that if you love what you do you will never work a day in your life. Isn’t that true? I cannot imagine being a person that hates going to work. Watches the time slowly go by. Lives entirely for the week-end. If you love what you do, then “work” is a pleasure. Instead of dreading Monday, you’ll have thoughts “I can’t believe I get paid to do that.”
Helping people and making a difference to others is the same thing. If you have to force yourself to do good for others you will grow very tired of it. Two days ago I sat with a couple in their home in this community, a very quiet couple. He is dying and his memory is not what it used to be. They will never be able to come to church or get involved because of physical issues, so they will never be able to “give back”. As I talked she started expressing gratitude to me for taking the time to see them…and I though and I said, but this is what I would rather do than anything else…. Can I say to you as a church body thank-you for allowing me to care about people in Sumas, the hurting, the dying, the lonely… this is what WE value as a church…. It’s all about Christ, The Fruit of the Spirit…
Invite the Spirit to mature goodness in you. If you get tired of serving, find yourself critical of people who don’t seem to ever get their act together, it is you that needs to be changed. Don’t grow weary of doing good. Adopt this prayer: “Lord, transform me into your character of goodness.” Inner goodness will be seen. In the supernatural character of the Holy Spirit, the world knows a sincere person of faith full of goodness is exhibiting the gift of God. Think about the best people you know, the highest character people, the most faithful good people, and their life is a neon sign for Jesus Christ.
Want to put out ugly thoughts towards others, tiredness of people, do you have a plan to put out the fires of drama in your life? Gal. 5:16 in the NLT says, “So I advise you to live according to your new life in the Holy Spirit, then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves.” That’s how you put out fires, fires of resentment, fires of tiredness in helping people, fires of acting in the wrong motivations. Gal. 5:19-21 has a list of desire birthed out of the life of sin without the Spirit’s work in you… Everything in this list can so easily burn you to the ground, consume you, isolate you, overwhelm you, the drama of life.
We can hide the impurity of our thoughts from others and burn within. This week I had the opportunity to become reacquainted with a young person I knew years ago. I asked her what her senior project was about. She said, “teenage depression.” I took a small risk and said, “Is that a self-help topic?” She looked at me and said, “Yes, and gave dates for her depression ending a year or two ago. A few sentences later I said, “Is it current?” She did not answer… We all have secret garbage threatening to burn us down, like a fire extinguisher manufacturing company burning to the ground. “Watch yourself” Paul says. Pay attention to the Spirit. Invite the Spirit to change you within.
A genuinely good person points to Christ with their life, because pure goodness is a Fruit of the Holy Spirit. Don’t grow weary of doing good by inviting the Holy Spirit to transform you into a good person who points back to Christ. That’s how you keep going and serving and helping and making a difference without getting tired. That’s how you stay out of the drama and getting set on fire not knowing how to put yourself out. That’s how you overcome the confusion and uncertainty, pain and discomfort, temptations….
Goodness is an internal supernatural character that will express itself to others. You can’t hide goodness under a rock, it is something that is eventually seen. Goodness will involve other people.
The highest form of goodness comes from a godly inner character. A good person may have failures, they may struggle in areas, and they are not perfect. What sets someone apart as reflecting goodness is the direction of a person’s inner desires, his motivations. Goodness in a person shows a moral excellence in allowing God to work in and through you. Only God’s goodness is perfect or absolute, He is our standard to measure ourselves with any area we are growing in. Amos: 5: 14 says “seek good, not evil, that you may live. Then the Lord almighty will be with you, just as you say he is. Hate evil, love good…”
The key to goodness is the Holy Spirit within, it is to seek His will in all things, it is to die to self completely and aggressively pursue your own healing and freedom so you can “fight the good fight of faith”, so you can “abound in every good work. Remember “He that began a good work in you will bring it to completion”, and while He does, “do not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time you will reap a harvest if you do not give up.” You will not be burned down by the desires of your flesh, but through the Spirit you will be changed.
When we are moving in and through the Holy Spirit, it is not difficult to choose good over evil. Jesus is our example of goodness. Today as we remember Palm Sunday and our Lord entering Jerusalem on the back of a donkey to certain death, reflect on His goodness. His motives both then and now reflect pure goodness.
Allow Jesus to look inside you. Invite the Holy Spirit to aggressively pursue the fruit of the spirit in all areas of your life and you will be able to stand with no chance of burning out. Goodness is a Fruit of the Holy Spirit. Amen.