• Connect

Redefining Goodness

1024 768 Paul Luna
  • 0

Ever looked in the mirror and felt like there’s more to you than meets the eye? That’s the essence of Jesus’s message in Matthew 5:7-10, nestled within His Sermon on the Mount. He imparted that true righteousness is akin to an apple, juicy and sweet from the inside out, suggesting it’s about internal transformation, not merely our external actions. This implies that our inner virtues and attitudes are as significant, if not more than our deeds. To understand this internal transformation Jesus advocated, let’s dive deep into His Sermon on the Mount, particularly Matthew 5:7-10.

Merciful – “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Matthew 5:7: Ever noticed how when someone’s nice to you, you want to be nice back? It’s the same with mercy. When we’ve felt God’s love, we can’t help but like to share it with others.

Pure in Heart – “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Matthew 5:8: Being pure in heart is like keeping a clean house—it’s about being honest with God and ourselves. It requires a transparent and sincere commitment to God, devoid of deceit or hypocrisy.

Peacemaking – “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God Matthew 5:9: Being a peacemaker means fostering a spirit of reconciliation. This goes beyond avoiding conflict; it actively promotes peace and harmony.

Persecuted – “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:10: As followers of Christ, we may face persecution because of our commitment to these kingdom attitudes. But remember, it’s about sticking to our values, not picking fights or acting better than others. In understanding these blessed attitudes, we realize that Jesus emphasizes a fundamental shift from mere actions to intrinsic attitudes.

Actions vs. Attitudes: A New Way to Be Good

We usually think of being good as doing the right things. But Jesus wants us to focus more on becoming the right people. It’s about changing our hearts so that doing good comes naturally to us. Like saying, “I want to keep my thoughts clean, so I’m careful about what I watch. I want peace in my neighborhood, so I share God’s love with folks around me.”

We all know the struggle of trying to do the right thing but getting caught up just trying to look like we’re doing the right thing. It’s similar to having a used car that looks flashy from the outside, but it’s a mess under the hood, constantly breaking down and leaving you stranded. Jesus wants us to focus on the engine, not the paint job. He says, “I want you to become good from the inside out, so naturally, you’ll do good things.” This transformation from action-based to attitude-based goodness can be challenging to understand, so let’s look at it through the lens of a well-known tale.

The Emperor’s New Clothes: Seeing the Real Deal

The Emperor’s New Clothes story illustrates the dangers of focusing solely on outward appearances. Do you remember how it goes? Here’s a quick reminder:

Once upon a time, a rather self-absorbed Emperor loved nothing more than to show off his vast collection of fancy suits. Two sneaky tailors arrived at the castle one day with an irresistible offer. They claimed they could make a magical suit that only wise and worthy people could see. Anyone who couldn’t see it, they said, was just not fit for their job or was very silly.

The Emperor, who loved being the center of attention, was immediately intrigued and commissioned the tailors to start weaving the suit. As the tailors pretended to work on the “special” suit, the Emperor sent his most trustworthy men to check on their progress. But to their shock, they saw nothing! Fearful of being thought unworthy or foolish, they all lied and told the Emperor the suit was the most beautiful thing they had ever seen.

Finally, the day arrived when the suit was supposedly finished. The Emperor, not wishing to seem unintelligent, pretended to see the invisible suit and agreed to wear it in a grand parade through the city. So, there he was, the Emperor, strolling proudly down the city streets, wearing nothing but his invisible suit. All his subjects, too scared to admit they couldn’t see anything, showered him with praises about his extraordinary suit. All that is, except for a small, innocent child. This little one, looking at the Emperor, shouted out loud for everyone to hear, “But he doesn’t have anything on!”

That’s us when we focus more on looking good than being good. We can’t be like that Emperor, all about the image and missing the truth, or like those religious leaders Jesus talked about who were all show and no substance. Jesus himself warned about this illusion of righteousness in Matthew 23:25-28. 25 Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean. 27 Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. 28 In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness. Matthew 23:25-28.

Here’s the thing, though, how do we make this real in our lives? How do we stop focusing on the outward stuff and start working on our hearts? It’s not always easy, but it can be as simple as asking ourselves why we’re doing what we’re doing. Are we helping out at the community center just because we want people to see us doing it, or do we genuinely care about our neighbors and want to see our community thrive? Remember, people might see actions, but God sees intentions. Like a tree is known by its fruit, real goodness comes from a heart committed to Jesus. Jesus said it’s not just about avoiding the big wrongs; here in Matthew 5:21–26, 27–32, 33–37, and 38–48, Jesus makes it clear that it’s not just murder, adultery, or broken oaths, but it’s also about dealing with the anger and lust that leads to those wrongs in the first place. Now that we understand what Jesus cautioned against let’s explore how to make this pursuit of authentic goodness a reality.

How Do We Get There?

So how do we get to this kind of real goodness? It starts with realizing we need Jesus. When we depend on Him, we begin to live right and show the good stuff that comes from His Spirit (Galatians 5:22–23), not just our efforts.

I understand life isn’t easy. Bills are piling up, hours at work are getting longer, and it feels like no matter how hard we try, we’re always coming up short. But remember this: God’s love and mercy aren’t about how much you make or what job you have. God sees the heart. And when we allow God to change us from the inside out, it doesn’t just affect us, but it impacts our family, friends, and community. Therefore, hold on to hope and continue striving for that authentic, deep-seated goodness. You are not alone in this journey.

Next Steps

Getting this right means dealing with our attitudes, not just our actions. It’s like dealing with a bad cough—you can treat it all you want, but you must deal with the cold causing it. In the same way, Jesus wants to deal with the root of our problems so we can live truly good lives.

As followers of Jesus, we’re called to let God change us from the inside out, just like a tree grows and bears fruit. When we allow God to change our hearts, our actions show God’s love. Just like that little kid in the Emperor’s story had the guts, to tell the truth, let’s have the courage to live lives of real goodness. It’s time for us to step up, take action, and actively pursue the path of real goodness. How will you live out these teachings in your daily life? Are you ready to take that step and commit to a life of real goodness? Share your thoughts and experiences with us. Let’s grow in faith together.


Paul Luna

Paul Luna is a pastor, husband & father of four in Oregon. He's passionate about faith, family, & community, he enjoys painting, hiking, & tech.

All stories by: Paul Luna