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7-Day Practical Faith Blog: Positive Goodness rather than Negative Goodness

Matthew 7: 12

Does living a 7-day practical faith mean that you avoid temptation and doing bad things, or does it mean doing good things?

The easy answer is "Both," but if we had to prioritize, I would say, "Doing good things."

Jesus' teaching was unique because he stated morality in the positive. Many religious teachings have stated morality in the negative, such as "Don't do to others what you don't want done to you." This is what I call "negative goodness," a do-no-harm approach where it's possible to live your life morally without helping anyone else.

Jesus lifted morality to a higher level in Matthew 7:12 by teaching:

"So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets."

Harry Emerson Fosdick gave this analogy of Jesus' positive goodness:

"When Ulysses passed the Isle of Sirens, he had himself tied to the mast and had his ears stopped with wax, that he might not hear the sirens signing - a picture of many a man's pitiful attempts after negative goodness. But when Orpheus passed the Isle of Sirens, he sat on the deck, indifferent, for he too was a musician and could make melody so much more beautiful than the sirens, that their alluring songs were to him discords. Such is the Master's life of positive goodness, so full, so glad, so triumphant, that it conquered sin by surpassing it. Have you such a saving positiveness of loyal devotion in your life?"

Good question! To live a 7-day practical faith in the style of Jesus, let us adopt positive goodness with a hands-on approach to those we encounter, as opposed to a negative goodness, hands-off approach that merely avoids doing harm.

Speaking of positive goodness, that's a major theme of my book and video series, "Live Like You're Loved." Let's get together for an online study of this book so we can put positive goodness into practice, living daily like we're truly loved by God! Enrollment is open for the five-week class that begins on Oct. 15 and ends on Nov. 11. Please visit to register. If you don't own the book yet, you can purchase it at the same link.

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