Seek good

sparkler-677774_640 (1)Amos 5:14: Seek good, and not evil, that you may live; and so the LORD, the God of hosts, will be with you, as you have said. (ESV)

What you pursue defines your life. Jesus says that we should seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness (Matthew 6:33).

The focus verse says that we should seek good and not evil. That seems simple enough but we need that truth lived out in our lives, not just something we say but what is seen in our lives. We need it actualised.

When Jesus was on the cross he sought the good of even those who crucified him. He prayed to God: do not hold this against them (Luke 23:33-34). The bible talked of how blessed it is for us to have our sins forgiven (Romans 4:6-7).

Stephen the first martyr of the church also did the same thing Jesus did (Acts 7:54-60). While he was being stoned and his breath was leaving his nostrils, he prayed that God will forgive those responsible. When we have a forgiving heart it shows that we are seeking good and not evil.

Peter asked Jesus the extent he should go to forgive others. He asked: how many times someone can offend me in a day that I will need to forgive him? He wanted to know the limits of seeking good in that wise. He asked: is seven times not enough? He probably thought it was (Matthew 18:21-35).

Jesus answered: it is not seven times, but seventy times seven times. That means if you want to count, it will be a waste of time and you will lose count. And if you are bent on it, you will keep counting until you are blue in the face.

Then he gave a parable in which he impressed it on us that when it comes to forgiving others we need to be like God, we need to express the God’s own generosity.

It was Peter who will later write: be holy as your heavenly father is holy (1Peter 1:15-16). He finally got the point that what God wants us to output in goodness is not as defined man’s limited ability.

It was something we need to depend on God for. Jesus was unequivocal when he said that no one is good except God (Mark 10:18). Only God is purely good. God is good and Jesus says he showers his rain on both the righteous and the sinner, saying we should be like that (Matthew 5:43-48). David says that he has no good apart from God (Psalm 16:2).

Jesus gives a high standard of love saying that we should love our neighbour as ourselves (Mark 12:31). He also said, showing the kind of love he himself expressed, no greater love do I have than for a man to lay his life for others (John 15:12-13). Jesus died for us because he sought for our good. We were down and out and he willingly laid his life down to get us back to him.

God saw the evil that happened to Man after the sin in the Garden of Eden, but he was not going to surrender to it, he was going to do something about it.  He was going to offer us help in the quagmire of sin we are in. He sought our good, he came all the way from heaven seeking our good, and he wants us to go into the whole world to tell everybody about it, as we share his love for others (Mark 16:15).

Seeking good involves all of your being. It involves going out of your way. When Jesus said that the greatest love is to love the Lord our God with all our heart mind and soul, and to love our neighbour as ourselves, someone asked who is my neighbour (Mark 12:31, Luke 10:25-37)? To answer Jesus gave a parable about a Samaritan who went out of his way to help a traveller that was injured and left for dead after robbers waylaid him on the way.

The Samaritan was the epitome of “seeking good.” There was no prize too much for him to pay to get the needy man back on his feet. The Samaritan helped to connect the injured man to the right places where he could get expert help, where he can be ministered to.

The good you can do somebody may be to invite the person to a church where the need for salvation, healing and transformation can be met. The restoration of the man left for dead because he had been so beaten and battered as the unexpected evil fell on him did not happen overnight. But the Samaritan man was willing to pay the prize to see the end of the process. He was “seeking” his good, not just “wishing” it.

John wrote about the need for us to be practical about meeting the needs of others and not over-spiritualise things. He said that if a brother comes to us who needs food or clothing, we should not shut our bowels of mercy, just offering a word of prayer and sending him on his way, if we have the means to help at whatever level (1John 3:16-18).

Proverbs says: do not withhold good from others when it is in the power of your hands to do it (Proverbs 3:27). The power your have, the opportunities, the possibilities that you have are meant to be deployed for the benefit of others.

Paul wrote that everyone should learn to work with their own hands in order to be able to give to the needy (1Thessalonians 4:11-13, Ephesians 4:28), not just that they could eat. In another place, he said God is able to make all grace abound towards us so that in all things and at all times we will abound in every good thing.

The abounding is not for self-gratification, it is for us to be an extension of the hands of God to give to others. Paul said that Timothy should tell those who are rich in this world to be adept at giving others, so that they may lay for themselves great treasures in heaven (1Timothy 6:17-19). In the same vein, Jesus said that we should labour to have treasure in heaven where moth or thieves do not get to. In the book of Colossian, we read that we should set our hearts on things in heaven and not on things on the earth (Colossians 3:1-3).

Jesus said that when we give it will be given back to us, in good measure, pressed down shaken together shall men pour into our bosom. There is the reward for giving, there is the reward for “flowing” to others. We read in the book of proverbs that he who waters shall himself be watered (Proverbs 11:25).

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