To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:11–12 ESV)
Paul writes to the church in Thessalonica that he is praying for God to “fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power” (2 Thessalonians 2:11b). The Greek word translated here as good (agathōsynē) is the same Greek word translated as goodness in the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5. Paul knows that goodness will take God-given resolve because the goodness God calls us to has no limit.
One of the delights of living in Minnesota is its winter. Because of how cold it gets and how long it lasts, you can enjoy all winter has to offer: ice-skating, ice-fishing, cross-country skiing, sledding, snowshoeing, the list goes on. One of the dangers of living in Minnesota during the winter is thin ice. Every year there are stories about a person, or a snowmobile, or a car going into the water because the ice was not thick enough. Due to temperature or moving water underneath, the ice didn’t have the depth needed for walking (4 inches) or driving (12 inches). When the pressure increased, the ice cracked.
I’ve experienced the disillusionment caused by the thinness of goodness. The man who led me to Christ and discipled me through college had a moral failure. At a nonprofit, I watched a pastor in a church I was attending in Colorado contemplate for a moment and then take a donation of used, but nice, golf clubs meant for the organization. I’ve taken a Sankofa journey with a group of leaders from the Twin Cities, exploring sites from the slave trade to the civil rights movement and seeing God-empowered goodness amidst horrible atrocities; I also lamented how incredibly thin the goodness was for so many who claimed to be Christian. Like the ice in Minnesota, goodness in our lives always runs thin. Those closest to me can tell you what depth they see in my life.
Jesus shows the depth of his goodness as he steps toward the cross. Step after step, his goodness never runs out. The works of the flesh are evident (Galatians 5:19–21), and the closer Jesus journeyed to the cross, the more he experienced the effects of them. Betrayal, abuse, deceit, hate, shame, idolatry, and ultimately murder. With each step, the pressure increased; it cost him his last breath. Yet, Jesus’s goodness never broke. And because of his resurrection, we are assured it will never run thin.
Truly no one does good (Romans 3:12); there is limit in each of us. But on that Good Friday 2,000 years ago, we see Jesus’s goodness goes so deep that it is without limit. Jesus wasn’t disillusioned; he knows our sinful, broken condition. With resolve, he went to the cross for us so we, through faith (not our goodness), might know the limitless goodness of God as his children (Psalm 34:8; Galatians 3:26). Jesus’s goodness never broke and it will never run thin.
Now, may God “fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Aaron Brockmeier is the senior pastor at Faith Baptist Church in north Minneapolis, Minnesota.