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Do Not Neglect
to Do Good
(Heb 13:16)

It’s not that human beings are incapable of good.  If we were incapable, then what would be the sense of all the commands and exhortations we read, all the imploring by the Almighty and His Son?  They beg us to do good, to do right.  It must be that we are capable of heeding them.
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We know where the enemy of good is—it’s that desperately corrupt heart that devises evil (Genesis 6:5, Jeremiah 17:9).

we don’t do what we’re capable of, except in fits and starts

Which is to say, we know what the Enemy is.  Yes, capital E, or if sticking to the Hebrew, capital S.  Not because the Enemy is a personality, but because it’s important we recognize it as an immensely powerful force.  We are capable of good, even great good on occasion.

But overall, the Almighty’s assessment is that we don’t do what we’re capable of, except in fits and starts.  Predominantly, we humans are characterized by the rottenness inside.  It is discouraging.  Primarily what we see, around us and within, is anything but good.  Until we are touched by the divine.

In landscape or nature photography, the photographer is often frustrated by being unable to escape the “hand of man”.  Wires, roads, cell towers intrude into the frame.  Why do we care?  Somehow deep within us is a recognition that the works of mankind corrupt.  We strive for a scene without the hand of man.  Our minds and our hearts connect with what is divinely created; the creations of man are an intrusion.

Easy to make the connection, isn’t it?  The literal/physical is an easy-to-understand metaphor for the spiritual.  In the spiritual realm, just as in the physical, it’s the hand of man that spoils things.  Yet there it is, in everything.

Our minds and our hearts connect with what is divinely created

My intent here isn’t to be negative.  It’s to remind us all, myself included, that there is good, there is the divine, and importantly, we can be part of it.  We can actually participate in the divine!  If it were not so, why all the calls from God, from His prophets, from His Son, to do what is right and good?

When I am disheartened by the world, including by my own part in it, it really helps to get a dose of the divine.  The hand of God in the creation is a powerful anti-world medicine.

Soaking up the divine by seeing, listening to, smelling what God has made, is restorative.  Of course, there are the wires and  roads and all that, but we can train ourselves to look past them.  I’m speaking both literally and figuratively.  Literal exposure to the creation, and also exposure to the divine contained in God’s word, and in His other creations like family, fellowship in Christ, uplifting spiritual songs.  Yes, there are “wires” that intrude, the hand of man in our relationships.  Our families have them, our churches have them.

In the beginning, God transformed what was formless and empty into something wonderfully alive.  Spiritually He does the same in us – we are the new creation.  The glimpses of the divine, natural or spiritual, spark awe in us.  We are touched by the divine hand and a transformation begins.

The glimpses of the divine, natural or spiritual, spark awe in us

If we have become discouraged by the intrusions of the hand of man, it’s time to get out.  Out into the creation, physically—it’s truly good medicine.  And out into the new creation of love, joy, peace.  The new creation of fellow-recreated brothers and sisters.  The new creation of faith (built up by scripture) and hope (built up by confidence in the resurrection) and love (built up by remembering nothing can separate us from the love of God and of the Lord Jesus).

It’s when we are restored in these ways, reconnecting with the divine, that we become capable of setting aside and looking beyond the hand of man.  God, who is good, has made us, and remade us…for the express purpose of doing good:

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”  (Ephesians 2:10)


In our shared faith and hope and love,
Paul Zilmer
Bloomington, Illinois

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