But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-24)
I don’t know if there is a doggy equivalent to the New Years Honours list, but if there is I am sure that the highest accolades are the Order of Good Boy, and the Order of Good Girl. What higher thing can be said about a hound? What greater recognition for a dog than to be proclaimed as good? See how that tail proudly wags.
But what is good? Cross the channel and you can chomp away on horse meat. Back in this country there was an outrage when Tesco’s Everyday Value Spaghetti Bolognese was found to contain 60% horse meet. Is there an international standard of good? And then there is the past. We look back in horror at the behaviour of our forebears, and I have no doubt our great-grandchildren will be dismayed by our actions. Is there an eternal measure of what is good?
Well, yes. If we hold that God is both good and eternal, then goodness is to be found in his character, actions and teachings. To be good is to be upright, just and trustworthy. Christ taught, healed and gave up his life so that others might be reconciled to God. There is goodness. It is a generosity, and a willingness to self-sacrifice. It is an interest in the welfare of others.
When it comes to deciding between good and evil, it is vital to do so using a standard which transcends culture and time. No wonder Jesus said: “No one is good except God alone.” (Mark 10:18)