Good or Bad — Morning Devotions - Hope 103.2

Good or Bad — Morning Devotions

If we think about it, how do we define what is good or bad? Relying on relative definitions can be harmful, there has to be an objective truth.

By Chris WittsWednesday 2 Aug 2023Morning Devotions with Chris WittsFaithReading Time: 1 minute

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One of the more interesting war movies that has been made is seeing Private Ryan, which I’ve seen on TV recently. Actually, it was a big hit, released in 1998 and you probably know the story. Captain John Miller or Tom Hanks, as he’s really known, takes his men behind enemy lines to find Private James Ryan, whose three brothers have been killed in combat.

So when this movie came out in 1998 “Saving Private Ryan”, it received Universal acclaim winnings, winning several awards for the film The Cast, the Crew as were earning significant returns at the box office directed by Steven Spielberg. Now it has many confronting and disturbing scenes based on what happened there in 1944 during the invasion of Normandy. But there’s one scene that’s very moving right at the end, and Private Ryan is now an old man who goes to the cemetery to visit the grave of Captain Miller, who led the mission to save his life. And as he stands at the grave, he wonders as if he’s lived a life that’s worthy of Miller’s death and the others who saved him. It’s a very emotional, touching scene, and Private Ryan’s elderly wife joins him at the grave and he turns to her and he says, “Tell me that I’m a good person. Tell me, would you that I’ve lived a good life” and it was a very moving scene.  He was trying to justify the loss of another person in place of his own.

I think what he needed was the reassurance that he was a good person, that he was worthwhile.

And I think that’s a powerful statement, and I’m sure that deep down each of us want to be good people. It’s kind of a basic requirement of life, and goodness is better than evil. And I like the story, and that’s all it is. The story.

One day God was looking down at the Earth, and he saw all the rascally behaviour that was going on. So he decided to send an angel down to Earth to check it out. The angel came back and said, “Look, God, yes, it’s bad on earth, 95% are misbehaving, 5% are not” so God thought for a moment and said, “maybe I better send down a second angel to get another opinion. So God sent another angel down to Earth to confirm the findings.”

And when this angel returned, he said To God, “yes, the Earth is in decline, 95% are misbehaving. 5% are being good.” Well, God wasn’t pleased with that. So he decided to email the 5% that were good because he wanted to encourage them and give them a little something to help them keep going. And do you know what the email said? No. Well, I didn’t get one either.

You see, it’s a good story, but I wonder what is it that makes a good person? If you asked a group of people this question, you know, are you a good person? Some people would think, well, I don’t know what it means to be good. Some would say, “Well, if I’m kind and charitable and give to others or if I live a life like Mother Teresa or I help old ladies across the street or I give some money to charity.” But it was Mahatma Gandhi who said it’s the action, not the fruit of the action. That’s important.

You have to do the right thing. It may be in your power may be not in your time, but there may be no fruit, but that doesn’t mean that you stop doing the right thing. You may never know what results come from your action, but if you do nothing, says Gandhi, there will be no result.

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Well, one poet said, people are basically good. It’s only their behaviour that lets them down. So many religions and philosophies argue that if we are to be happy, then we should do good things, and that’s a fairly logical approach to life. If we do not ever do good things, can we expect to be happy? In fact, why do good? Why be good? In a world that is often so dishonest, why must we be good?

I have a feeling that many people will say, “Look, I live a good life and when I die, I’ll go to heaven. I’ve never killed anyone. Surely God will accept me”, well, Jesus was once asked what we must do in order to please God to get to heaven. What? What? What must we do to do the works that God requires? John 6:28

And this plural, the word, was plural. The works. Jesus said the work of God is this – Believe in the one he has sent. And that’s the key. The key to getting to heaven. Not that you’re such a good person, but that you believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. Good teacher Jesus was asked once, ‘What must I do to inherit eternal life? And why do you call me good?’ Jesus said no one is good but God alone. This is a tough question.

But Jesus taught that we are to love and care for our neighbour and do good to them.

Let’s Pray

Thank you, Lord. Help us to understand that goodness alone is not enough. We should believe in you. Amen.