Have you ever been called a “Goody Two-Shoes”?
That name comes from a children’s book published in 1765 called “The History of Little Goody Two-Shoes.”
The story tells the tale of Margery Meanwell, a poor girl who only has one shoe. When a wealthy gentleman learns of her situation, he in pity buys her a second shoe which fills Margery with gratitude. She proceeds to tell everyone “I’ve got two shoes!” In the course of the story she pays that gift forward later in life, using the wealth she gains to be good to others.
Nowadays it’s not a compliment to be called “Goody Two-Shoes.” If someone has ever said that of you or called you a “goody-goody” or something like that, it was probably critical. We don’t navigate the cynical domain of this world long before we realize the badness of it, the corrupt nature of even our best motives, and the risk associated with pushing against those realities. Why do I say “risk?” As soon as you posit that there’s good in this world and try to live in that reality, someone will try to put you down.
King David understood that cynical reality, for his time period was not really so different from today. I’m thankful that David put devotional thoughts and prayer into the bad world and how to cultivate a heart of goodness.
Psalm 4:6–8 There are many who say, “Who will show us some good?
Lift up the light of your face upon us, O LORD!”
 You have put more joy in my heart
than they have when their grain and wine abound.
 In peace I will both lie down and sleep;
for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety. (ESV)
David begins Psalm 4 by remembering a time in the past when God helped him. He’s in another hard situation now, this time reflecting on the abuse God’s people get by those who “love vain words and seek after lies” (2). He’s in a situation where bad guys have figured out that goody goodies get nowhere and flattery and lying are the way to survive this world. David says, “not so fast, men. Consider the LORD.” Verse 4 says, “Know that the LORD has set apart the godly for himself.” Godly is synonymous with “good,” for God alone is good. The bad guys look at this world only, and the conclusion they draw is “goodness gets you nowhere. Look out for yourself.” That worldview completely leaves God out of the picture.
David says that believers should not live cynical lives, angry at the abuse of others and seeking revenge (4). Instead we should not abandon goodness; we must seek its source out in God Himself. David paraphrases what many in his generation and many in our generation ask, “Who will show us some good?” He answers by looking to God: “Lift up the light of your face upon us, O LORD!” (6). David says that seeing the LORD in His goodness will transform the godly into the good people this world needs. When we are satisfied with the goodness of God, the uniquely unfathomable goodness of God, we will overflow with goodness toward others.
How do we cultivate this goodness in our lives?
- Really take time to think about the goodness of God to you. When has God shown good to you? How have you been surprised by His help when you knew you did not deserve it? Praise God for those displays of His goodness. Spend time worshipping Him.
- Read a gospel and focus on the goodness of Jesus. See His goodness to the leper when He says, “I am willing, be clean” (Matt. 8:3), His goodness to the woman at the well when He says, “I who speak to you am He” (John 4:26), and His goodness on the cross when He answered “This day you will be with Me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). Worship Christ who shows us the goodness of the Father.
- Show the goodness of God to others. Paul the apostle wrote to the Roman church “I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another” (15:14). Paul knew that the believers there were full of goodness because they had been saved and set apart by the only good God. He urged them to join him in his mission to see others saved, churches started, and people introduced to the goodness of God.
Friends, while it may not feel good to be called a Goody Two-Shoes, I think it’s actually a great opportunity, like Margery Meanwell had, to run around proclaiming to everyone “I’ve got good news! I’ve got good news!” When God graces this world with His goodness, no cynicism or evil can put it down. Let’s be people filled with the goodness of God.
Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, Self-Control