Goody Two-Shoes – NOT!

 The fruit of the Spirit is goodness. –Galatians 5:22 NIV

 It wasn’t my mistake, but I’d be the one to pay for it.

When my credit union changed hands, the new company changed the date on which it automatically deducted a $300 loan payment so that the payment would come out two days earlier.

The problem was they never told me. Never sent me a notice, never called me. Nothing.

So when I received a notice that they were docking my checking account $50 for two bounced checks, I called.

“I mailed a check to be deposited two days before the loan payment was due,” I told them. “It was enough to cover the payment.”

That’s when they told me about changing the date. Long story short, they added the $50 back in my account.

I thought that was the end of the matter until I got a bill from the optometrist for $15—the insufficient funds fee from one of the checks my credit union bounced because they took out the loan payment two days early.

I called the optometrist’s office and explained what happened.

“I’m not paying this,” I said firmly. “This wasn’t my fault.”

You know the spiel. The bank charged them the fee, and they were passing it on to me.

I argued with the office manager.

“Somebody has to pay it,” she insisted. “And we aren’t.”

“I shouldn’t have to pay for someone else’s mistake,” I muttered to myself after I hung up.

Then I pictured the Son of God hanging on a cross. He paid for all of our mistakes. All of our rebellion. All of our wrongs. And He never did a thing wrong.

I called the office manager back and apologized.

“I get yelled at everyday,” she told me, her voice softening. “It’s not often someone calls back and apologizes.”

I thought about calling the credit union or the bank involved and arguing my case with them, but decided it would be easier to pay the $15 than to run headfirst into the concrete wall of corporate policy. My blood pressure is high enough.

“To be good,” reads my Bible dictionary, “is to do what is right. It is to show, by our works, praiseworthy character and moral excellence.”

I’m no goody two-shoes. I fail every day. I get tired of doing the right thing time and time again—only to get slammed, blindsided, taken advantage of, and treated like I’m a nobody.

But that’s why God gave me His Holy Spirit—to help me to do that which I know is right, especially when it’s hard to do.

And sometimes the right thing is to say, “the buck stops here.”

Dear God, forgive me for becoming weary in well-doing. Give me the wisdom to know the right thing to do and the strength and courage to do it. Amen.

Read and reflect on the following Scripture verses:

He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. –Micah 6:8 NIV

For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God has prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10 NIV

 And let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. –Galatians 6:9-10 NIV

From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea, Vol. 3 © 2019 Michele Huey. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Bearing Fruit

Image courtesy of rakratchada torso at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of rakratchada torso at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. – Galatians 5:22–23 (NIV)

At the age of 20 Benjamin Franklin created a system for developing in his character 13 virtues: temperance, silence, order, resolution, frugality, industry, sincerity, justice, moderation, cleanliness, tranquility, chastity, and humility. (See note below for Franklin’s description of these virtues.)

He focused on one virtue each week, marking his progress on a chart in a little book he carried with him. At the end of each day he’d put a dot next to the virtue for each fault committed that day with respect to that virtue. After 13 weeks he’d start all over again, completing the course a total of 4 times in one year.

His goal, of course, was to conduct himself in such a way he wouldn’t have to put any marks on his chart. Imagine his dismay when he saw more than he wanted.

I can identify with Ben and his need to organize and schedule and chart. I can’t live without my lists. In fact, I schedule my week using an Excel document on my computer and refer to it often throughout the day. There’s something satisfying about crossing out items as I complete them.

Call me OCD.

So Ben Franklin’s chart of virtues intrigued me—even tempted me to try this on my own.

But I know me. I didn’t want to have to face all those dots at the end of the day.

But not to worry.

My character is being developed anyway—by the indwelling Holy Spirit.

You see, God too has a list of virtues He wants to develop in our characters. They’re called “The Fruit of the Spirit.”

Think of a fruit tree. What does the tree do to produce the fruit?

Nothing.

Really.

It produces fruit not because of what it does but because of what it is.

So it is with us. We don’t produce the Fruit of the Spirit because of what we do, but because of what we are.

13-virtues-chartThat sure takes a lot of pressure off, doesn’t it?

So why do we still think we can develop these virtues on our own?

In Galatians 5:16–25, the apostle Paul describes two approaches to life: doing things (or trying to) on our own strength or allowing the Holy Spirit, who indwells every believer, to work in and through us.

We’re a much too independent society—we think we can do anything and everything on our own.

The problem is we can’t.

When we try to develop the fruit (which is singular, by the way, not plural—think of an orange, one fruit with many segments) on our own, we’ll only meet with failure.

But when we submit to and allow the Holy Spirit to work in and through us, He develops this fruit in us. We mature as believers.

What about you? Are you feeling frustrated because you don’t see the Fruit of the Spirit in your character—because you’re trying to mature on your own?

Think of the fruit tree and remember—you don’t produce fruit because of what you do, but because of what you are—a beloved, chosen child of God in whom His Spirit dwells.

Remind me, Lord, that I can do nothing on my own strength, but everything through yours (Philippians 4:13). Amen.

Extra tea: Read and meditate on Galatians 5:16–25

Ben Franklin’s 13 Virtues:

1. Temperance: Eat not to dullness and drink not to elevation.

2. Silence: Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself. Avoid trifling conversation.

3. Order: Let all your things have their places. Let each part of your business have its time.

4. Resolution: Resolve to perform what you ought. Perform without fail what you resolve.

5. Frugality: Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself: i.e. Waste nothing.

6. Industry: Lose no time. Be always employed in something useful. Cut off all unnecessary actions.

7. Sincerity: Use no hurtful deceit. Think innocently and justly; and, if you speak, speak accordingly.

8. Justice: Wrong none, by doing injuries or omitting the benefits that are your duty.

9. Moderation: Avoid extremes. Forebear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.

10. Cleanliness: Tolerate no uncleanness in body, clothes or habitation.

11. Chastity: Rarely use venery but for health or offspring; Never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.

12. Tranquility: Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.

13. Humility: Imitate Jesus and Socrates.

SOURCE: http://www.flamebright.com/PTPages/Benjamin.asp Ben Franklin’s 13 virtues