Goody Two-Shoes

I wear two shoes everywhere I go, except to bed. Be thankful–my feet are ugly.

I also try to be good. With God’s help, sometimes I may actually come close. Does that make me a “goody two-shoes?”

In 1765, an anonymous children’s story about a little girl named Margery Meanwell was published in London. Margery’s nick-name was the title of this fictional bedtime story–“Goody Two-Shoes.” She was a poor orphan girl with just one shoe. After a kind gentleman of means gave her a complete pair, she went around telling everyone she has “two shoes,” something I take for granted.

Eventually, Margery became a good teacher and married a wealthy widower. The moral of the story was that goodness plus patience will pay off (a popular theme for 18th century children). So, the goodness of a rich gentleman inspired gratitude in a little girl, which became the soil from which more goodness grew.

21st century children could use more stories like this.

Over the years, it seems the cynics have outlived little Miss Meanwell. “Goody Two-Shoes” is now a pejorative. We use Margery’s nick-name to ridicule, not to compliment. Another popular cliché today warns that good intentions will lead us down a road we don’t want to follow. And if our good intentions do result in good action, we run the risk of being criticized as a “do-gooder.”

Forget the critics. The spiritual fruit of goodness is delicious to God. He also relishes good intentions but not without good behavior. Jesus’ brother James warned, “Anyone who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.” (James 4:17). The apostle Paul taught that Christians are “created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10). So, God is the real do-gooder.

Doing good and dealing with sin sums up the life and mission of God’s sinless Son, Jesus. Besides doing good, He talked a lot about being good. Just read His sermon on the mount. He also minced no words about being bad, often railing against his own generation as “wicked and adulterous.” More than just unpopular, this made Jesus a target for His jealous enemies—the faux goody two-shoed Pharisees and Sadducees of His day.

Conceit and self-righteous pride are not good. Those “two shoes” really stink! The great 19th century preacher Charles H. Spurgeon (1834 –1892) once said, “The Lord loves to use tools which are not rusted with self-conceit.” Better yet, Jesus said, “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 14:11).

Margery Meanwell told everyone about her two shoes because she was overwhelmed with gratitude, not conceit. And gratitude is fertile soil for the genuine growth of goodness.

So, what on earth is good? Let’s go back 2,800 years for the best answer ever to that good question:

    He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8).
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