Saturday, August 8, 2009

Teaching What Is Good

The next phrase of Titus 2:3-5 seems a little obvious at first, but when you start to think about it, it is not as easy as it sounds.

How many times do we know what the right answers to one of life's questions, problems, or situations are, but we choose not to do it. So many times, we would rather not say what we know is right and good because we know that by acknowledging what is good and right we will have to make some changes in our own lives. And let's face it, no one likes changes that make us uncomfortable.

So what does good mean? Well, according to dictionary.com there are over 50 definitions. Here are some of the first few definitions given: morally excellent, virtuous, righteous, pious; satisfactory in quality, quantity, or degree; high quality, excellent; right, proper, fit; well behaved; kind, beneficent, friendly; honorable or worthy, in good standing, and the list goes on. I think you get the picture here. Good is a high quality and high standard word. In our society, we have taken the word good to mean less than excellent, but excellent is exactly what the word means.

So, if we are to teach what is good, what does that mean for us? We are to teach what is complete and right to those who are younger than us. For me that means Addie. I have to teach her good behavior and good, godly morals. That means being careful of what she watches. She watches mostly Veggie Tales, Hermie, and educational DVDs that we have purchased, but she occasionally gets to watch the Backyardigans. Before deciding if the show is okay for her, I read the information and watch the show. Even with small children it is important for us to check that what is being put into their minds is good. There have been a few episodes that, for one reason or another, she has not been allowed to watch. Why? Because as her mother, there are things that I do not consider to be good for her. Will someone elses idea of good be the same as mine? Maybe not. But as each of us spends time with God and asks Him for wisdom, He will show us as parents or caregivers what is good for for the child(ren) in our care. Addie used to love the movie Horton Hears a Who, and we saw some spiritual parallels in the movie itself. However, we began noticing a pattern. When she watched it, she would wake up screaming and crying. We have had to remove that movie from the rotation, and although she still sometimes cries in her sleep, it is not nearly the same kind of cry that she had before. We had to ask for wisdom so that God would show us what was good for her.

Teaching what is good also means not avoiding teaching part of a lesson because the other part convicts us. It is so important that we teach respect and obedience to those in authority over us to our children. However, on a personal level, I had a problem with a person in spiritual authority for a very long time. This particular person had hurt my family and me very much, and I had harbored anger and bitterness towards this person. I felt God speaking to me for a while now about forgiving this person, and this week on Joyce Meyer her teaching has been on forgiveness. At Jonathon Ralston's funeral this past Wednesday, God brought me to a place where I had a decision to make about forgiving this person. I could either walk right past this person (I could have easily made it look like I hadn't seen this person) or I could purposely turn around, shake this person's hand, and show this person that I had forgiven them. Only with God's help and strength, I chose the latter. How could I have talked to Addie about forgiveness or respect of those in spiritual authority if I myself was struggling in this area? By God's grace I can now address this with my daughter. And I can't even begin to describe for you the freeing feeling I received moments after this event happened.

Sometimes teaching what is good means teaching something even when we are afraid of what others may think or we are afraid of the subject itself. In our society today "tolerance" is demanded from those of us who choose to have convictions on what God says is right and wrong. When we begin to make stands and statements against what we believe God says is wrong in our society, we are criticized and labeled as intolerant. Teaching what is good sometimes means teaching what is not popular or considered politically correct, teaching what may sound old fashioned, teaching what may be considered prudish. However, our society is evidence of what not teaching what is good has gotten us.

Lastly, teaching what is good means teaching what is right, not teaching what is our opinion or our own personal preference. When we are studying God's Word, it is important that we look at it with eyes that have no covering on them. We can't filter what we read through a sieve of our own opinions an preferences. We need to do it the other way around. God's Word is not to conform to our ideas. Our ideas are to conform to God's Word. If that means that things will need to change in our lives, then so be it. As Christians our lives are to reflect the Lord and His Word and standard. God's Word has not changed over time, whereas our opinion, preferences, ideas, and behavior have, unfortunately. When we receive from God's Word what is good and teach what is good, God will be able to do amazing things in our lives and in the lives of those around us. We need to be so careful, that we do not avoid teaching what is good because it does not fit with our preconceived notions.

May we go forth and teach what is good to those around us, and may God be glorified by our willingness to do so.

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