Choosing goodness can sometimes seem like an unrealistically lofty goal. But when we keep in mind that goodness is good for us as well as others, that can motivate us to do what’s right even when we’re tempted to do otherwise. It’s the connection between goodness and wonder that wakes us up to the benefits of being good.
As a girl, I learned how choosing goodness leads to wonder, when I persuaded a neighbor boy to stop his cruel habit of stepping on caterpillars. The boy bragged about how many of those little creatures he could stomp into a sidewalk as they tried to cross from one patch of grass to another. Then he ran across the sidewalk in front of us, targeting as many he could and snuffing out their lives just for entertainment. I stood frozen in shock at first. But soon, the sight of the caterpillars’ colorful fuzzy bodies filled me with anger. They were all meant to turn into butterflies or moths, and they’d never get the chance to do so.
“Stop!” I yelled as I ran over to tackle the boy before he could kill any more vulnerable creatures. “Stop it right now! That’s wrong!”
“Get off me!” he yelled back. “This is just for fun, that’s all!”
“No, it’s not!” I replied, releasing my grip on him. “You need to stop, or I’ll tell your parents you’re not doing what’s right!”
The boy backed away without a word, staring at me with a bewildered look on his face. Then he simply ran back home. Whenever I saw him after that, he left the caterpillars in our neighborhood alone.
Seeing how I was able to persuade someone to choose goodness over cruelty led me to become an advocate for animals from then on. I’ve experienced more moments of wonder enjoying animals than I can count – from feeding the birds and squirrels in my yard, to adopting cats and dogs into our family. Many of those wonderful experiences happened simply because I chose goodness when I met vulnerable creatures.
What’s one memorable time when you choose to be good, and experienced wonder as a result? Reflect on that story from your own life and let it inspire you to choose goodness right now. When you remember how doing what’s right showed you something wonderful, that can motivate you to be good in any situation – especially in situations where you’re tempted to do wrong, and could use a nudge toward goodness.
In Wake Up to Wonder, I explain research that shows how choosing goodness can lead to wonder, and how experiencing wonder can lead to goodness. It’s a beautiful cycle that fuels more and more inspiration as we keep choosing what’s good in our lives.
Here’s how to cooperate with the Holy Spirit to grow in goodness, and discover wonder in the process:
Live to please God simply because you love him. As you do, he will transform your mind and heart so that you naturally love goodness as he does and are motivated to obey his laws.
Meditate on scripture and ask the Holy Spirit to show you how you should apply it to every aspect of your life.
Commit yourself to fulfilling God’s purposes in your life by obeying his guidance. Regularly ask God to reveal his will to you and help you do it.
Recognize and confront sin when you encounter it, rather than excusing it or watering it down in some way.
Before worshipping God, prepare yourself by confessing any unresolved sin in your life and asking God to purify your heart. Repent by turning away from the sin and toward God.
When performing tasks God has entrusted to you, take them seriously, remembering how important it is to fulfill God’s purpose for your life.
How will you pursue goodness today?