Today’s Reading: Isaiah 29-32
Today’s Reflection: Isaiah 32:8
But he who is noble plans noble things, and on noble things he stands.
It’s quite common to hear someone say, “but really, I’m a good person.” Typically they say this right after they’ve done something not so good. They’ve lied, or stolen, or insulted someone, cheated on a romantic partner, cheated on their taxes, and they knew the thing they were doing was wrong. But despite their mistake, and despite knowing it was a mistake when they were making it, really deep down inside they’re a “good person”, right?
Isiah 32:8 suggests that someone who is noble—another word for someone of good character—plans noble things and is rooted in noble things. All this (and the context of the previous verse) implies that because of this he would then do noble things. So what then of the person who does things that are not noble? Well it follows that at least some of the time their plans are not noble. Perhaps they have a thought of revenge, or lust, or greed or a dark thought that they dwell on but would never even think to act out in real life. That is until the opportunity to act it out presents itself (and when the enemy knows your mind is set on dark things he can do a lot to bring the opportunity about). Or perhaps that person’s life is partially rooted in things that are not noble—ideas of life that are low in character and not pleasing to God like objectifying the opposite sex or pursuing wealth while neglecting the needs of the less fortunate. If ignoble actions come out of our lives, no matter how much we try to excuse our actions, we cannot claim to be truly “good people”. As much as we would like to deny it there is a natural consistency between our behavior and our character.
The point of this isn’t to pass judgment on anyone. All of us make mistakes, some accidental, many purposeful and misguided. But the reality is the fruit of our lives, the actions we show others, are a product of what’s going on inside of us. Fortunately we serve a merciful God who will use our mistakes to point out where we need to change and give us the opportunity to repent. If we allow Him, God will shape us, give us noble foundations and teach us how to make noble plans so our conduct can be noble. No longer does such a person need to say, “but really, I’m a good person”, because it will be apparent in every facet of their being.
James 3:10-13 – 10) From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. 11) Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? 12) Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water. 13) Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom.