Noticing Goodness And Knowing What is Good
This is one of our 2015-2016 Mops Themes – that is “Noticing Goodness”. I chose months ago to write about this theme first and foremost because I want to become a more grateful human being. I chose November to write because I love Thanksgiving, when people gather to celebrate “thankfulness” for the “good” things in life. Ever since I chose to write on “goodness”, I have been more intentional about my observation of this life’s abundant blessings, whether seen, touched, felt, heard or tasted. I hope you all have experienced, like I have, much “good” and not “bad” in your life as well since we started our “flourishing” Mops 2015-2016 year!!
Now did you notice that, unfortunately, in noticing “good” we can’t help but think of its antithesis- “bad” or even “evil”? Being the questioning sort of person that I am, I began to contemplate how does one intrinsically know what is “good” from what is “bad”. Or do we sometimes get the two mixed up? Have you ever experienced something “bad” that actually turned out quite “good” or vice versa? I must admit I like to watch the Dr Phil show from time to time. I also watch the world news and read the newspaper fairly regularly. It becomes overly apparent that we seem to live in a pretty “bad” environment. Why can’t people and nations just get along? There seems to be chaos and disconnect everywhere, intermixed with some “good” positive news as well.
So I want to raise the logical question: “Is moral ‘goodness’ an absolute or is it subject to reinterpretation according to the desires of society?” I can take this question to the extreme; one society says I should not murder you or harm you in any way. Another society says you can and you may be my next meal! A favorite family story of ours illustrates my point even better. We like the movie “End of the Spear” and books about Jim Elliot and Nate Saint. These Christian missionaries dared to befriend a very dangerous tribe in Ecuador called the Auca Indians. To make a long story short, both lost their lives when the tribe turned on them because of a slanderous woman’s misinformation. This happened after spending a week with them enjoying each other’s company with many talks around the camp fire. But the story did not end there. Their wives befriended a girl who managed to leave the tribe and she in turn taught them the Auca native language. The wives again made contact with the Indians where they lived in the jungle peaceably for over 2 years. The tribe’s members, through these women, experienced love and forgiveness that they had never seen and their lives and society were dramatically changed through the Biblical principles learned from their new friends living amongst them.
I believe the forefathers of this great nation understood that the God of the Bible, and the practice of His truths and principles were the essential ingredients to a peaceful “good” existence between individuals, government, allied nations, individuals and families. I illustrate this with the words of George Washington himself when he proclaimed Thanksgiving a “public day of thanksgiving and prayer” to “Almighty God”.
As President, on October 3, 1789, George Washington made the following proclamation and created the first Thanksgiving Day designated by the national government of the United States of America:
Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor, and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me “to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”
Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be. That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks, for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation, for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his providence, which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war, for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed, for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted, for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.
And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions, to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually, to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed, to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shown kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord. To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and Us, and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.
Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.
George Washington again proclaimed a Thanksgiving in 1795.
So this Thanksgiving will you, with your family and alone in your prayer closet, take meaningful time to meditate and to Praise God for “all His benefits” (Psalm 103:2)? Will you think about all the good He provides for mankind – His crowning creation – the only one’s created “In His image” (Genesis 1:26-27)? Will you look to Jesus, the Savior, by trusting in Him for the greatest gift of all – that is, never ending life? If you haven’t done so will you take the time to read the Gospel of John?
Titus 3:4-7 explains that simple faith alone in Christ is all that is required. Mercy is undeserved and cannot be earned:
4 But when the goodness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, 5 He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, 6 This Spirit He poured out upon us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that having been justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the promise of eternal life. Titus 3:4-7
Written by Mary Visnovsky- Mops Mentor Mom at GCBC