Romans 8:1-11 (NRSV)
1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and to deal with sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 so that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For this reason the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God's law-indeed it cannot, 8 and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you.
The poet, peacemaker, minister and Celtic Spirituality scholar J. Philip Newell writes:
"Eriugena, the ninth-century Irish teacher, says that if goodness were extracted from the universe, all things would cease to exist. For goodness is not simply a feature of life; it is the very essence of life, Goodness gives rise to being, just as evil leads to nonbeing or to a destruction and denial of life's sacredness."
The Apostle Paul believed that we have a choice. We can live as forgiven and redeemed people (Life in the Spirit) or we can live out of our sin. There is goodness in all of us but sometimes we set the good aside so that we can please our ego, need for power, greediness, emotional desires, and bodily wants.
Paul's main point was that we cannot do good on our own. We need God's help. I'm reminded of a story told by Ted Engstrom in his book, The Pursuit of Excellence. Babe Ruth who hit 714 home runs didn't end his baseball career all that well. In one of his last major-league games between the Braves and Reds, Ruth fumbled the ball and threw badly. In one inning alone, his errors were responsible for most of the runs scored by the opposing team.
As Babe walked off the field, the fans yelled and booed. Suddenly, a young boy jumped over the railing onto the field. With tears streaming down his face, he threw his arms around the legs of his hero.
"Ruth didn't hesitate for a second," wrote Engstrom. He picked the boy up and hugged him. He then set him down on his feet, patting him on the head. The angry, rude noise from the stands suddenly came to an abrupt halt. There was no more booing. A hush fell over the entire park.
In those brief moments, the fans saw goodness. They saw it in Babe Ruth who, in spite of his dismal performance that day, could still care about a young boy. They saw it in a boy who cared about the feelings of his hero.
Will you choose goodness or something else as you walk through the days of your life? Think about it.