A Good Person?

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

“You’re such a good person. You are so good-natured. You are humane.” If I hear these words told to me once more, I may scream. But I realize that the people speaking those words don’t know any better. They measure “goodness” by worldly standards. I haven’t killed anybody, haven’t shot anybody, didn’t curse anyone out. I must be “good.”

Yes, I was raised in a loving household, by a mom and dad who loved me and my brother dearly. Our parents taught us to be kind to others—even when we were called the “n-word” in our predominately White school district. We were taught to say “may I,” and “please” and “thank you.” We were taught not to steal because the item didn’t belong to us (though this still happened—that’s another story). We were raised in a Christian household, blessed by generations of family members whose love for Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has bestowed God’s blessings and favor upon us today, as promised in Exodus 20:6

My grandma said that I was “born smiling.” Yet, in all of this “goodness,” and the compassion and kindness I show toward others today, trust and believe it’s not because I am “good.” I am still a product of being born into sin and a fallen nature. All of us are, due to mankind’s fall/Adam and Eve. Unequivocally, what you see outwardly from me is the Holy Spirit living and working moment-by-moment within me. Countless times the Holy Spirit has stopped me short of saying words that would be unkind. Countless times He has settled me with His love and peace toward others when my flesh wants to rise up and lay them out. As I wrote in this March 10, 2016 post, “10 Things I Shouldn’t Do But Do Anyway,” I am an imperfect vessel.

Transformation

I’ve purposely asked the Lord to transform me into His likeness. I daily pray that He help me extend toward others greater levels of faithfulness, gentleness, goodness, joy, kindness, love, patience, peace and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). I give Jesus ALL of the GLORY for who I am, because of His living in me. I am not foolish in thinking that all of this has come because I am “so good.” It’s because I’ve made a deliberate choice to walk in His ways, to yield to His spirit and instruction to love others.

In fact, the Scottish Baptist evangelist Oswald Chambers (1874-1917), said “love means that there is no longer a visible habit, you have come to the place where the habit is lost, and by practice you do the thing unconsciously.” Loving others is becoming more and more for me each day, less of a habit and more a fabric of my being. Thank you, Jesus!

Those of us who daily yield our actions, words and thoughts to the Holy Spirit’s ways understand this humbling yet joyful transformation. As told in Philippians 1:6, Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.

It’s a blessing when we see God’s perfecting at work in our lives and others see the EVIDENCE as well. To call it anything less by saying “we are good” is to deny the greater work that has been invested in us by a loving God who values us so. If not for Him, we’d be left to our own devices. Without inviting the Holy Spirit into our hearts, it’s foolish thinking to consider ourselves “good.” As a dear sister in Christ says, “We underestimate our sin. We underestimate who we are.”

So please, do not consider me “good.” But rather, consider me being perfected daily in Christ Jesus!

-Nicole

Nicole D. Hayes is the founder of Voices Against the Grain, a bold teaching ministry launched in May 2013. Nicole’s purpose in creating Voices Against the Grain is to be light in darkness, to boldly instruct truth amid confusion so as to bring clarity and restoration.

Learn more about Nicole D. Hayes here.

 

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Fresh Produce

When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God. – Galatians 5:19-21 (New Living Translation)

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! –Galatians 5:22-23.

Jason M. Alexandre, Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Jason M. Alexandre, Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

I discovered recently that gardening is no easy feat! It might even be considered by some as physical exercise. Needless to say, that after a long arduous day of pulling weeds, pouring mulch, and plowing the flower bed I was spent! However, my spirit was pleased to imagine the fresh produce that would soon be coming after planting seeds. Do we have fresh produce in our lives? Does our spirit resemble the fruit that the Holy Spirit produces mentioned above?

How can we truly say that we worship and have a relationship with God if our lives resemble our sinful desires i.e. the works of the flesh? For Jesus Christ once told us what God is like. He said, “For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship him in Spirit and in truth.” –John 4:24 God’s Spirit is Holy and the Bible says “but as he who called you is Holy, you also be Holy in all your conduct. Since it is written, you shall be Holy, for I am Holy.”1 Peter 1:15-16. My dear friends following the desires of your sinful nature are bondage. You’re not free if that’s your lifestyle. “And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”                     –Galatians 5:24 “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” –Galatians 5:1

A yoke is a wooden bar that allowed two (or more) draft animals to be coupled (yoked) so that they might effectively work together. The Bible frequently uses the word ‘yoke’ metaphorically to refer to work or bondage. However, it could also be associated with divine judgment. Sin was the reoccuring cause of Jerusalem miseries and the complaint they made toward God of their calamities. “He wove my sins into ropes to hitch me to a yoke of captivity. The Lord sapped my strength and turned me over to my enemies; I am helpless in their hands.                    – Lamentations 1:14 “An evil man is held captive by his own sins; they are ropes that catch and hold him. He will die for lack of self-control; he will be lost because of his great foolishness.” –Proverbs 5:22-23

fruit of the spirit

When we live in the flesh, i.e. by our sinful nature, we invite death into our lives, primarily spiritually. We are rendered useless to give God glory not yoked for service, but for penance, tied neck and heels together. I’m so glad there is a yoke we can put on! It is one that is eternal! One that gives our souls rest! For Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world said to us, “Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” –Matthew 11:29-30

Stick to Jesus! Cling to him! He will produce in your heart and in your spirit that fresh produce that can fellowship with God and with His People as we wait to be led into the Kingdom of God. Amen

-Jason

Jason’s vision is for the gospel to continue to spread throughout the world and believes it is Christian’s responsibility to carry out this mission effectively. To learn more about the organization for which Jason volunteers, please visit www.HaitiChristianity.org.

Learn more about Jason M. Alexandre here.