July 4, 2019 • Life for Leaders
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord.
According to Ephesians 5:9, “the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth.” In yesterday’s Life for Leaders devotion we saw that God is good, righteous, and true. We are called to be like God. When we allow God, who is light, to fill us, we will bear fruit that is godlike. As people of “goodness, righteousness and truth,” we will live fruitfully, contributing to the harvest of God in the world.
Today, I want to focus our attention on one little word, a word that could be easily overlooked, a word that has the potential to change your life. I’m talking about the word “all.” Did you notice it in the phrase “all goodness, righteousness and truth”? It’s there, and it makes a world of difference—yes, a world of difference (pun intended; you’ll see why in a minute).
In the original Greek of this verse, the word “all” covers the three following nouns. Paul is saying that the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, all righteousness, and all truth. Not just some goodness, some righteousness, and some truth, but all of all three.
Why might this use of “all” change your life? Because many of us have been led to believe that only certain kinds of goodness, righteousness, and truth really matter to God and really make a difference in the world. Religious deeds fall into this category. In this view, what really counts in your life is doing things like going on mission trips, feeding the hungry at a homeless shelter, supporting ministries of justice, sharing the Gospel with your co-workers, being a pastor or a missionary, and other such “spiritual” activities.
Now, these actions surely should be included within “all goodness.” But they do not have any more intrinsic goodness than other more “secular” activities: treating your co-workers kindly, making a fair bank loan, teaching children at school, serving on the city council, designing an excellent bridge, conducting a scientific experiment, painting a stunning painting, writing a symphony, cooking dinner for your family, reading to your kids before they go to bed, and so forth. We have the potential to be fruitful, to do what is good, right, and true, in every facet of our lives.
The division between the sacred and the secular, or, as it’s sometimes described today, the spiritual and the ordinary, does not reflect the truth that our fruitfulness includes all goodness, all righteousness, and all truth. What we do in this world and for this world matters. It matters to the world and it matters to God. Like I said, “all” makes a world of difference.
Today, as you go about the business of your day, by all means pray for your colleague at work, gather with other believers in a small group, or help out at a homeless shelter. But let God’s light in you be expressed in all goodness, all righteousness, and all truth. Live as a child of light in your work, shopping, commuting, studying, playing, talking, listening, parenting, and eating. Offer all that you do to the Lord as worship. Let your all be a meaningful part of God’s fruitful work in the world.
Something to Think About:
Do you tend to divide life up into “spiritual” things that are really good and “ordinary” things that are less good? Why? Where did you get this way of thinking?
If the fruit of the light actually consists in all goodness, all righteousness, and all truth, what difference might this make in how you live and think and feel today?
Something to Do:
Talk with a trusted friend or with your small group about “all” in Ephesians 5:9 and why this matters.
Gracious God, thank you for creating this world and all that is in it. Thank you for caring about this world and calling us to be fruitful within it. Thank you for shining your light in us so that we might bear fruit in all we do. Yes, in all we do.
Help me, Lord, to see my life as one giant offering to you. May I serve you in everything I do. May I learn to see all of life as a context for worship, faithfulness, and goodness. By your grace, may I live as a child of light today in everything I do. To you be all the glory! Amen.
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Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.