Goodness

Sometimes I vent to my wife.

And the mornings seem to be the hardest.

I wake up and my brain begins.

Often as it revs up for the day, it begins by digesting all the conversations I had the day before.

If yesterday’s exchanges were difficult, I start in on some imaginary line of attack in response to what was said. Things I’d love to be able to say but can’t. Or won’t. Or simply didn’t think of.

I’m great at being witty, cunning, and cutting the day after. And I’m awesome at proving all the time how right I am. Especially the next morning.

Because, after all, I am a morning person.

Tragically, Hannah is not.

So I go on and on in my head, like some well-practiced defense attorney.

When I reach a point at which I feel I am going to overflow with confidence, I take my laundry list of good, strong, valid points to my wife. While she’s getting ready in the mirror, I stand before her and present my case. Because she’s still waking up, her only function is to listen. Mine is to be persuasive.

I go on and on proving how right I am, how witty God made me, how assertively my brain works, and how strategic my thinking can be. Once the defense rests, I feel satisfied, like Atticus Finch thumbing his suspender straps from beneath. I stick out my chin, pleased and impressed.

By the time I get home at night, her brain has switched on. She asks how my day was. And how that particular conversation went, the one I acted out from that morning.

Tail between my legs, nine times out of ten I have to confess that either I misunderstood the person or simply got all up in arms over nothing.

That they meant well. And my brain was just overzealous and defensive.

I had an imaginary fight over nothing.

Can you relate to that?

I wonder how often we all do that. We go into our days, loaded for bear, all worked up and defensive and trigger happy, just waiting for confrontation.

I wonder how often we assume the worst, when we could have assumed the best. And saved ourselves a lot of negativity, resentful emotions, and peace.

In 2 Peter 1, Peter writes some clear directives and goals to the early community of Christians who are clearly pondering how to become more Christ-like.

So he lists out:

“For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness.”

The word “goodness” is the Greek word “ἀρετή.” It’s only used four times in the New Testament. Three times by Peter, once by Paul.

It means “a virtuous course of thought, feeling and action.”

There are probably a million ways this broad, nonspecific phrase applies to the life of the believer. But for me, it made me think of something I’ve heard Pastor Terry say several times.

He may not be the first to say it. It’s just that it’s registered most deeply, most profoundly, from his mouth to my ears:

“Assume goodwill.”

I love that.

Unless there is a specific reason not to, assume goodwill. Assume the person in question meant well.

If there is an offensive way to take something he or she said, and also a non-offensive one, err on the side of the non-offensive, until something convinces you otherwise.

Don’t waste any time on imaginary arguments.

Don’t assume the worst.

Play the optimist.

Don’t jump to conclusions.

And don’t dwell on things internally that set you up for agitation. Seriously. If you’re chewing on something on the inside that has severely aggravated you, then what’s going to come out as soon as you open your mouth that day in an exchange with someone else?

Agitation.

I wonder how many times we set ourselves up for negativity, defensiveness, and trouble-seeking, before we even leave the house.

Instead of dwelling on negative things, what if we dwelled on positive things?

The Greek word Peter uses here is only used three other times in the New Testament. One of those times, by Paul, is in Philippians 4:8:

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

Meditate on the positive things. That way when you open your mouth, your breath will reek of positivity.

When you chew instead on the negative, that’s all that will come out of us once our days begin.

I’ve started wearing a hair tie around my wrist. When I catch myself dwelling on something negative, or assuming the worst, I pop myself. It’s not that painful. But it snaps me out of it.

We have to train ourselves.

And we have a wonderful resource in this endeavor –the gift of the Holy Spirit, who will sensitive us and strengthen us for that task.

May our days be characterized by our surrender to His power.

Amen.

3 Comments
  • Trey Harris
    Posted at 11:15h, 01 September Reply

    Wow!! Great stuff!!

  • Tami Seaborn
    Posted at 12:21h, 01 September Reply

    Thank you so much for this Devotion! I am looking forward to your future devotions. I am going to meditate on positivity!!

  • Julie Allabach
    Posted at 16:42h, 13 September Reply

    Love it Tommy!!!

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