Jake peered over the top of my computer screen. His upper lip curled a bit. His eyes twinkled. Jake nodded his approval.
“See,” Jake chastised me, “God says it’s okay to use the word, good! Good is a good word!”
For years and years and years of our Happy Blue School and Jubilant Academy life, I banned the use of this colorless, nondescript word in the boys’ writing. It has been my goal for the boys to invoke both clarity and imagery in their word choice. Honestly, as autistic individuals, Jake and Caleb prefer literal, concrete ways of expressing themselves. So, I’m challenging them in a number of ways – too many to write about now.
And for years and years and years, Jake and I have had a running debate when he wants to put the word ‘good’ into his writing.
Jake has asked an infinite number of times, “WHY NOT? Why can’t I use the word, good???”
And once I again, I respond with my explanation that ‘good’ provides little to no imagination in writing.
Yet, this week, as Jake, Caleb, and I reread the Creation story, Jake felt justified. The Lord of all creation declared his work ‘good’ five different times, and then as He finished his work, the Lord declared:
God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.
New International Version, Genesis 1:31
“See, Mom. See! God says it’s okay to use the word good!” Jake contended.
What could I say?
Who am I to argue now with both Jake and the word of God? 😊
And then to emphasize the point, the word ‘good’ popped up in my devotional reading the next morning:
For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
New International Version, Ephesians 2:10
There it was again.
That ‘good’ word.
Not only that, but good was paired once again with creation and workmanship.
So, what’s up with that?
What is good?
What is a good work?
I swept, mopped, and cleaned up our kitchen floor. Was this a good work?
I took a walk with my boys. Was this a good work?
I remained ‘on hold’ for over an hour waiting for a customer service rep to respond to my call. Was this a good work?
I prayed with a friend. Was this a good work?
I held my tongue. What about that? Is demonstrating patience a good work?
What in this God-given world are good works?
I hunted for some answers in Scripture:
You my brothers and sisters were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature, but rather serve one another in love.
New International Version, Galatians 5:13
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.
New International Version, 2 Timothy 2:15
Okay, here we go then, a definition of a good work:
A good work involves love and service to others as we live in a God-honoring way.
So, how do we do this good work? What does it look like? What does a good-work life exemplify?
Perhaps it is a soul inclined towards glorifying God, loving others well, and honoring God in all we say and do. Let’s flesh this out a bit more with practical examples:
We are generous to someone who is financially compromised.
We offer kindness to a customer service representative.
We extend grace to someone who failed and who is ashamed.
We pray over someone with compassion.
We hold our tongue – listening, instead of arguing, dismissing, debating, insulting, or cursing.
We express our wondrous joy as we share about our relationship with Christ.
We invite others into our lives and share authentically with them – the blessings and the struggles.
We sweep and mop the floors and clean toilets, too – in love and service.
In all we do and say, our lives are an outward expression of the intrinsic good we have received in Christ.
I said it.
I wrote it.
We live for Christ and extend his goodness, his love, and his care to others.
That’s a good work.
So, maybe my son Jake is right.
Good is a good word.
What do you think?