Many of you have seen the movie, 300, about the great bravery of the Spartans. Historically, the Spartans had a system of honor and moral values in place that were the foundation of what the world looked at as their bravery. They lived by their sense of what was right and good. This mentality affected everything they did...it was their moral compass so to speak.
A story from the annals of history will highlight their value system.At a council of the Athenians, at which were present representatives of the Spartans, a certain elderly man moved from bench to bench, seeking a place to sit. The Athenians mocked him and did not relinquish a seat to him. When the old man approached the Spartans, every one of them to the person rose to their feet and offered him a seat. Upon seeing this, the Athenians praised the Spartans in eloquent terms. To this, the Spartans replied: "The Athenians know what is good but they do not do good."
In this world we live in, we see many folks today like those Athenians.Perhaps they have a moral compass to guide them, but it does not affect every area of their lives.How easy it is for some people to compartmentalize their value system.It is the stuff of which “Sunday Christians” are made.Of course that mentality is found in all religions and is not exclusive to Christianity.How sad it is to see someone who talks a good talk but yet can do evil...or simply fail to do good... with no remorse.Whatever moral compass they have must be hidden deep in a pocket or simply left on the shelf until Sunday rolls around again.
Looking for a moment at the Christian Faith, we find an extreme emphasis on doing good.In the Bible doing good things is often called producing fruit.Jesus used the word “fruit” over and over again in teaching people to do good things.He said that real Christians would be recognized by the good that they do:
"Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them” (Mt. 7:20).“Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit.” (Mt. 12:33).“This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples” (Jn. 15:8).“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name” (Jn. 15:16).
Fruit, fruit, and only fruit does the Lord seek from every living tree...and we are those living trees! Good fruit is a God-loving heart that seeks to do good and bad fruit is a self-loving heart that seeks after self-exultation. A good, God-loving heart is within every Christian and God desires us to use that heart to produce good fruit.Everything else that a man possesses and enjoys - position, authority, honor, health, money and knowledge - is nothing more than the leaves on the tree.
"…therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire" (Mt. 3:10). Notice that nothing is mentioned about those leaves!How high up the job ladder we climb; how many awards we receive; how great our body looks from working out; how much money we have stashed away in various accounts; or how many degrees we have after our names…all of these are nothing compared with our calling to do good each and every day!Even the non-Christian peoples, like those Spartans, valued good deeds more than fine words.
For Christians, the Holy Spirit within us is our Moral Compass.He is always pointing us in the right direction.But, the choice to do good (to follow that moral compass) is always ours to make.We can talk a good talk…we can know what is right but fail to do it…or we can choose to “DO GOOD”.It should be the rule for all of us. Whoever performs good deeds resembles that tree which brings forth good fruit for his householder. That “householder” is God!
In a discussion like this, some well-intended person will feel their salvation is being questioned or perhaps even threatened and they will quote Ephesians 2:8-9 to me:“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.” If one of you dear readers happens to fit into that category, please be reminded of the very next verse, Ephesians 2:10:
“…For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”
Doing good should be our way of life, not something that we argue about or turn into a theological debate.Those who belong to the Lord were created to do good!Nothing could be clearer!What is God’s will for your life O’ Christian:To do good!
To put this whole thing in the simplest of terms, we can return to the punch line of the story of the Spartans and the Athenians:Don’t just know what is good but do good!!
Have a most blessed week as you find ways to do something good!!!
St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church 1010 Spruce St * Pueblo, Colorado * 81004