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.

 

Advertisements

10 Things I Shouldn’t Do But Do Anyway

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

Ms. Goody Two-Shoes. Rule-follower. Frowns on those who repeatedly break the rules. From the time I invited Jesus Christ into my heart as my Savior at age 12 and even before, I’ve desired to obey Him because of my love for Him. I’ve also experienced the blessings of obedience and encourage it all the more.

However, I’ve also had to crucify pride and self-righteousness that have easily and unsuspectingly reared their heads when I’d previously compare what sins I hadn’t committed to what other people had done.

Prior to being saved, I lied about the smallest things to my parents to avoid punishment (ex: blaming my brother for the last bottle of soda consumed, or blaming him if something got broke). After getting saved, if my mom said something that I knew was untrue, I’d correct her. Finally, one day she said, “Nikki, stop it with that holier than thou stuff!!” (She was a Christian too)

I’ve come to understand, as the Scottish Baptist evangelist and author of My Utmost for His HighestOswald Chambers (1874-1917), said: “As long as our eyes are upon our own personal whiteness we shall never get near the reality of Redemption. Workers break down because their desire is for their own whiteness, and not for God.”

We will never be perfect. We are imperfect vessels. Yet, for those of us in relationship with Christ Jesus, we are being perfected through the righteousness of Christ. We are saved not by our record, but by Christ’s record. I don’t have to prove anything to Him. I don’t have to be perfect. He loves me regardless. He chose me for His work before I was formed in my mother’s womb (Jeremiah 1:5) and knew my faults. Yes, I desire to obey Him because I love Him—not to prove myself holier than thou.

Thankfully, He has chosen to use imperfect vessels like me and you to be co-workers with Him, to advance His Kingdom on this earth. We labor in this work as we continue to be sanctified/being made holy and shaped more into the image of Christ.

 

Cutie baby black girl

 

As an imperfect vessel, I share with you 10 things I shouldn’t do, but do anyway.   🙂

  1. Sometimes I eat dessert first. (My grandma’s voice repeats in my head saying, “You’ll spoil your dinner.”)
  2. Sometimes out of haste and laziness, I yank the cord from the wall rather than properly grabbing the plug from the outlet.
  3. Sometimes I wipe potato chip salt and grease on my jeans while consuming the entire bag in one sitting.
  4. Out of haste, I’ve shaved my brows instead of plucking, waxing or threading them (BAD move!).
  5. I don’t untie my tennis shoes when taking them off.
  6. I yank the one gray hair from my head that springs up occasionally (I know the tale about more gray hairs appearing if you do this. So far that hasn’t happened.).
  7. I imagine saying the words “I’m going to bust your (bleep)” if someone has done something that angers me.
  8. I still frown at people who disobey rules, particularly those that are clearly displayed.
  9. I’ve caved to cravings during a few fasts.
  10. Sometimes I stay up way too late watching 80’s TV shows (good TV!). Then end up hitting the snooze button in the morning. Ugh.

Thank goodness, He loves me anyway. Care to share your list?  Yes, this could get interesting.   🙂

-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.