What God wants of us is to develop the habit of always looking for the good in all things, in all situations, and in all people. This is the wisdom of God at its best.
This passage comes at the end of a series of exhortations from Paul as to how we are to conduct ourselves as Christians. But like all such verses, there is a lot of meaning packed into these 22 words.
Let us look at the first clause: “As we have opportunity…” In reality, when do we not have the opportunity to do good. Do we not live in families? Does not each day, indeed, each moment of every day offer us the opportunity to do good to others? But do we not often fall short of this admonition? We are not perfect. We can get that fact out of the way quickly. That is not the problem. God knows this fact, yet he is infinitely patient, kind and forgiving toward us. What God wants of us is to develop the habit of always looking for the good in all things, in all situations, and in all people. God, who reads our inmost thoughts, who knows our hearts, will see our desire to do so and he will give us the graces we need to do the good for others more and more often.
“To all people…” Yes. There is the challenge of our Christian faith. As Paul writes in Romans 10:12, “For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him.” We are to do good to all people because all people are made in the same image and likeness of God that we are. We, as Christians, are to train ourselves to see others through the eyes of Jesus. To do good is to do the work of God in this world, for he is the source and the goal of all that is good. Is this not our greatest calling in faith?
“Especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” This is the wisdom of God at its best. For the fact is that if we cannot love and do good to those who are in our family, that is, our blood families and our Christian family at large, how are we going to be able to love and do good to “all people?” It would be the height of hypocrisy to do good to others, but to be cruel and unforgiving within our own homes, within our own believing communities. Indeed, it is the daily practice of doing good in the home, in our believing communities, that gives us the experience, the skill and the will to do good elsewhere. Home is where we best learn the “graceful” art of goodness. If we are practiced there, we will be able to take it everywhere.
Lord, give us the insight to see the good in all things and the courage to do it at all times, in all circumstances. When we fail, teach us and encourage us. For we desire you and your wisdom above all else. Your love and your grace are all that we need. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen!
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