“A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of” (Luke 6:45). It really is as simple, and as complicated as that, isn’t it. It is simple, because it is true. It is consistent with reality. It is complicated because we are sinful and will be to the end of our days.
Just because we are sinful does not mean that we are always sinning. The good man or woman can thank God that they are not always sinning. In truth, the distance between the ever-present inclination to fall and the actual fall into sin is vast, almost infinitely vast, in one who is good and in the graces of God. The good person chooses more and more often to be good and to do the good out of his or her vibrant, humble, and growing relationship with God. Through God’s generous gifts of grace, a good person is ever more aware of his or her sinfulness and how, when one sins, it is like laying another lash upon Jesus’ back at the whipping post. Such a good person is filled with a deepening desire to no longer speak or do evil. A good person understands his or her need for God’s mercy, grace, and wisdom in order to know what is really good and what is really evil, and to choose rightly more and more often. He or she develops the habit of reading the scriptures to be more and more able to discern what is good and what is evil in the light of God’s word. The truth is that we are all sinners struggling to overcome our sinfulness, but with the grace of God, we also know ourselves called to be saints. In faith we can trust that Jesus walks with us in this struggle every day.
The first step in our journey to sainthood is to know this truth. Because of our faith and our growing relationship with Jesus, our hearts are filled with a desire to follow him. In faith we know that God made us in goodness. That goodness is our truest nature, but because of the Fall of Adam and Eve, we became slaves to sin, suffering, and death. Jesus, in his life, death, and resurrection, has called us back to that original, natural, goodness. He has shown us the way and he has left us an Advocate to guide us, to teach us, to challenge us and to console us in his Holy Spirit. And when we simply and humbly turn our hearts, our minds, and our wills in his direction, he rejoices in us and fills our hearts with his love and our hearts swell with an ever-deepening desire to thank him, to praise him, and to honor him by choosing to do the good and to turn away from what is evil more and more often.
Jesus never stops whispering, “Come follow me” in the depths of our hearts. It is in the habits of prayer, of taking ourselves apart into solitude and silence that we deepen our relationship with Jesus. It is natural for us in any truly loving relationship, to be moved by the growing desire to be good and to do good for the other. If we naturally desire to do and be good for our spouse, our children, our friends out of love for them, how much more will we desire to do and to be good for the One who made us, who saved us, and who continues to love us with a never ending, faithful, and perfect love. It is true; you will know the good man or woman by how they speak of and to others. What is in their hearts comes out in the way they speak and act toward others, even those others who on the surface do not appear to be loveable. The same can be said about the evil person. The evil in their hearts reveals itself in their foul words and actions toward others. As followers of Christ it is the sincerest desire of our hearts to grow in goodness, to choose rightly, to speak rightly, and to act rightly in his name.
Lord, Fill our minds with your wisdom, our souls with your courage, and our hearts with your infinite love so that we may continue down our pilgrim road to your heavenly home growing ever more saintly in daily choosing to speak and to do the good and to avoid evil more regularly. In your name, Jesus, we pray. Amen!
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