“Be good for goodness sake.” I don’t really like the premise either, as far as it relates to our faith.
I do like that the song allows me to manipulate my kids every year in the months leading up to Christmas! It’s amazing how the threat of no reward, i.e. gifts under the tree, can affect behavior for a season. (Literally, for a “season.”) I don’t even have to wait until December 26 for the reversion to societal anarchy in the Reed house. By noon on Christmas day, my four youngin’s are fighting for pole position in the narcissism Grand Prix.
The bottom line is, when we simply act a certain way in the hope that our rewards might be increased, then we tend to always revert back to our nature. You see, an atheist believes that, because there is no God, then there is no other reason for being good. Modifying our behavior to “be good” is beneficial in our relationships with others, perhaps in our financial successes, and in our stature with man. In the long-run, however, we are still flawed and can’t actually “be good” without an internal catalyst. For the atheist, there is no other internal catalyst but self. Again … self is flawed … so there is no solution other than acting good.
Grace changes that. Jesus changes the heart. Behavior follows in response to what God has done for us. Being good for goodness sake will be short-lived because of the fallen nature of man. God’s desire to win us over is demonstrated in his willingness to become a baby, a boy, a man, and then to suffer for us on the cross. (Romans 5:8) In your ministry, are you leading with heart change over the feelings that elicit happiness? Do you ask your kids what they are getting for Christmas or what they are giving? Try it: Ask them what they are “giving” for Christmas. They will instinctively respond with what they think they heard and tell you what they are “getting.” It’s in our nature … unless we are changed from within.
My hope is that everything you do this Christmas would be for His glory. My prayer is that you would “be good” for the sake of the gospel. May Christ dwell in you richly and change you and your children deeply so that they may change the world for Him.
Merry Christmas, and be good for Jesus’ sake.
Jeffrey Reed serves as the Director of Kids Ministry for LifeWay. He came to LifeWay with a wide variety of ministry experiences including worship leader, director of children’s ministry, and executive leadership in several growing congregations. Jeffrey’s posts will give your heart and brain a workout, just like the fitness Boot Camp he leads in the mornings for LifeWay employees. Jeffrey and his wife Katherine have 4 kids.