Trying to Be Good

My mild-mannered rescue dog stands guard from the porch, surveying in all directions, ever on the look-out. She loves to bark at the deer and smaller animals that wander into the yard. Each time I remind her to stop by saying, “No bark!” Still, the next critter that rambles in receives her verbal wrath.

Then she looks at me with her sweet eyes, as if to say, “I’m trying. Really I am.” Try as she might, my pup falls short when it comes to being good all the time. We too fall short. After all, we are human and have faults of our own.

Like my pup, I have heard this narrative my entire life. As a small child I was rewarded for being good; discipled when I wasn’t. Like most children, the set of expectations for how I should behave was laid out before me. As I grew and aged, I sometimes challenged those expectations, knowing that I would face consequences whenever I did so.

Living a life of faith comes with expectations, as well. As we look for examples in the Bible, probably one of the most familiar is found in the Old Testament. God gave Moses the Ten Commandments, a set of expectations or rules to live by. The common thread through them all is respect. Respect and love of God and of neighbor; respect of self and others; respect of property. (See Exodus 21:1-17)

Looking at the Ten Commandments, I am tempted to pat myself on the back. After all, I have not killed anyone. I was faithful to my husband. I protected my neighbor and their stuff instead of wishing it was mine. All well and good, but…

What about when I gossip? That can be hurtful. And the little white lies I tell to spare someone’s feelings. Okay. So maybe I should not be so quick to name myself as righteous.

I try to be good, I really do. And I seek to do good, yet often fall short. Some days I even wonder why I bother to strive for such goodness because it seems so difficult.

Then I pause and regain my sensible thinking. I center my mind and heart on the Creator, opening again the lines of communication through prayer. It’s amazing how well this can get me back on track. How, when I refocus, things become more clear.

Daily, as a part of my quiet time with God, I offer up my praise. I lay my short-comings before the Lord, receiving forgiveness and a second chance. I ask God to guide me each day.

It’s not easy to own up to my mis-steps. There are times when I judge myself too harshly for something I said or did. I berate myself for these events, playing them over and over in my mind. I do this even though I know better.

Lucky for me that God is there for me when I mess up. Is there for me when I need direction, steering me in a way that honors God. After all, the One who died on the cross to forgive my sins, did so knowing full well that I would mess up again.

FOR FURTHER THOUGHT

There are many ways to strive to do and be our best, even when it seems difficult. Doing good can begin when we first get up for the day. Try starting with a simple prayer like, “Please, LORD, help me to do my best today, honoring each person I meet.”

Another way is to strive to see the Creator in each person we encounter. When we do, we just might notice the beautiful differences and similarities in others. Being and doing good is worth the effort. It can build up others, as well as us.

The Bible offers guidance, as well: “Let’s not get tired of doing good, because in time we’ll have a great harvest by not giving up. So, let’s work for the good of all people, whenever we have an opportunity.” (Galatians 6: 9-10)

Like my sweet, furry friend, we are sure to mess up. But, if we always seek to try our best, we will certainly do good a lot of the time!

PRAYER

Loving Lord, help me to do good and be good each day. You know I will mess up. Please do not give up on me even when I do. Thank you for Your faithfulness. Amen.


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