The next fruit is goodness. When I browse Merrian Webster's online dictionary (www.m-w.com), I find that I don't need to define goodness. Instead, I can just look at the synonyms to get a clear picture of what goodness is. Words like character, decency, morality, honesty, integrity, probity, rectitude, righteousness, rightness, uprightness, virtue, and virtuousness help me understand goodness a little better. On the other hand, the antonyms of goodness are badness, evil, evildoing, immorality, iniquity, sin, villainy, and wickedness. This surely does help me understand what goodness is not.
Now that we have a clearer picture of goodness (and badness), I think you would agree that many of us (as a matter of fact, all of us) fight a battle of good vs. evil on a daily basis (but if you haven't, keep living and you will). This battle has been characterized by many of the cartoons and comics we have watched and read growing up (and still watch). There was always a hero and a villain. Superman & Lex Luthor, Mufasa/Simba & Scar, Ariel & Ursula, and Batman & The Joker are just a few fictional accounts of this battle. The reason why these stories are so popular is because we can relate to these battles.
So how do you win the battle of good vs. evil? Here are a few practical tips that can help:
Live by your values. Values like honesty, trust, character, excellence, etc. are important guidelines to live by (you can find more values at www.values.com). Think of them as life's little GPS. Live by them and your life heads in the right direction. Don't live by them, and you travel down the wrong road.
Recognize good and evil. It seems that many people are facing such a decline in their views of right and wrong. I believe it's because the lines of right and wrong right have been blurred. Having something that defines right and wrong (like the Bible) helps get those lines back in focus.
Fight a good fight! If you noticed anything about the fictional battles mentioned earlier, never did the "good guy" give up the good fight and join the "bad guy". Simba never said "Scar, you know what? You're right. The kingdom does belong to you. I'm going to join your team". Instead, he fought against evil (obviously, that's a very brief account of the story). In the same way these guys fought against evil without giving up, so should you.
Understand your weaknesses & resist temptation. If you don't know, Superman's weakness was Kryptonite. Exposure to this substance could immediately draw the strength from Superman and make him weaker than a newborn baby. Do you think he would run to Kryptonite saying "well, just a little bit won't hurt"? Of course not! If you know you have weaknesses, stay the heck away from them! A little bit can hurt you.
Get support. One other thing that you notice about all of those fictional battles is that none of the "good guys" had to fight their battles alone. They all had supporters. Superman had Lois Lane, Mufasa & Simba had Sarabi & Nala, Ariel had Prince Eric & King Triton, and Batman had Robin & Alfred. The point I want to make is that you have people that support you too! Keep them close and let them help you.
Trying to live a life a goodness is very hard, especially when many people around you are not. Be sure to live by Romans 12:2 that says this, "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." Keep up the good work and don't stop fighting!
Written 4/13/2014 by John Weaver