Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
When C.S. Lewis wrote The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, I wonder if he ever thought it would be made popular in Hollywood as a blockbuster movie?
It was released worldwide in 2005 and won an Oscar. Kids love it, but so did adults. It was a phenomenon with some theatre audiences bursting into applause at the end. It was indeed a special movie.
Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy pass through a wardrobe to find themselves in the mythical kingdom of Narnia, which is under the spell of the white witch. Aslan, King of Narnia, is nowhere to be found. The four kids come across Mr and Mrs Beaver who are still faithful to Aslan. Don’t worry, they said, Aslan will return and put things right.
The kids are wondering what Aslan is like, and Lucy asks Mr Beaver if Aslan the Lion is safe. Mr Beaver says he’s not safe, but he is good. He was the true king of the forest, King of Narnia. But what stands out is his goodness and kindness.
What is goodness?
I want to talk about goodness for a moment. How do you define goodness? If a child is called a ‘good boy’ or a ‘good girl’ it typically means that they are behaving, that he or she stays out of trouble. Don’t we want our children to be good? When we dropped them off at a friend’s place, we might say, Make sure you’re good today. We might say, He’s got a good heart or She did a good thing for my neighbour.
A child once prayed this prayer: God, make the bad people good, and the good people nice. Goodness can develop a bad reputation. No-one wants to be called a ‘do-gooder’—it has a negative ring about it.
But what is it? Most of us know it when we’re feeling it. If we’re around a good person, something emanates from them. A work of art or beauty can evoke the same feeling. It’s a warmth, a light, a glow—maybe an aura of some kind. Or reliability, strength, moral excellence, or worthiness.
Goodness can be seen all around in the simple things of life.
Award-winning novelist William Martin wrote a book called Ancient Advice for Modern Parents in 1999. In a chapter titled “Make the Ordinary Come Alive,” Martin gives some advice to parents:
Do not ask your children to strive for extraordinary lives. Such striving may seem admirable, but it is a way of foolishness. Help them instead to find the wonder and the marvel of an ordinary life. Show them the joy of tasting tomatoes, apples and pears. Show them how to cry when pets and people die. Show them the infinite pleasure in the touch of a hand. And make the ordinary come alive for them. The extraordinary will take care of itself.
I think the message here is that goodness can be seen all around, every day in the simple things of life. Goodness is doing the right thing for the right reason. Now I suppose we could do the right thing for the wrong reason. I suppose that we could even do the wrong thing for the right reason. But goodness is doing the right thing for the right reason.
Goodness is perfect in God
The Bible also tells us that God is good. Now, what makes God good? Well, God is pure. God is holy. God is forgiving. God is generous. So, if we’re good people, then all those characteristics would be right of us, too.
When we are in Christ, we’re a new creation.
Another way we display goodness is through graciousness. In 2 Corinthians 5:17 in the New Testament we read that when we are in Christ, we’re a new creation. Now, why are we new? We’re new because God has changed us. The gracious person is one who has a heart of compassion. He looks around and sees others who are suffering and need his help. So wherever he can reach out and help them, he does.
John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Church, wrote:
Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.