The truly good man is he who practices the law of justice, love and charity in its utmost purity. If he asks his conscience about his actions, he wonders if he has not infringed that law; if he has not committed any evil; if he has done all the good in his power; if he has willingly disregarded any opportunity to be useful; if no one has reason to complain about him; and, finally, if he has done to others what he would want others to do to him.
He has faith in God, and in His goodness, justice and wisdom. He knows that nothing happens without God’s permission, therefore in all circumstansces he submits to His Will.
He has faith in the future; he thus places spiritual possessions above earthly ones.
He knows that all the vicissitudes of life, all its afflictions and all its disappointments are trials or atonements, and he accepts them without complaining.
Filled with the sentiment of charity and love for his neighbor, he does good for its own sake, without expecting reward, and he repays evil with good, takes up the defense of the weak against the strong and always sacrifices his own interests in the name of justice.
He finds his satisfaction in the benefits he spreads around, the service he provides, the happiness he promotes, the tears he dries and the consolation he offers to the afflicted. His first impulse is to think of others before thinking of himself and to attend to the interests of others before his own. The selfish man, on the other hand, calculates the profits and losses derived from every act of generosity.
The good man is kind, humane and benevolent toward all, regardless of race or creed, because he regards all people as his brothers and sisters.
He respects all sincere convictions that others might have and he does not anathematize those who do not think like him.
In all circumstances charity is his guide; he tells himself that those who harm others with malevolent words, who hurt others’ feelings with their pride and disdain, who do not recoil from the idea of causing suffering or difficulty, however small, when it could be avoided, fail in their duty of love for their neighbor and do not deserve the Lord’s clemency.
He holds no hatred or resentment, or desire for vengeance. After Jesus’ example, he forgives and forgets offenses, and only remembers the good deeds, because he knows that he will be forgiven as he has himself forgiven.
He is indulgent towards the weaknesses of others, because he knows that he needs indulgence himself, reminding himself of the words of Christ, “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.”
He never takes pleasure in searching for flaws in others, or in calling attention to them. If necessity forces him to do so, he always looks for the good that might mitigate the evil.
He studies his own imperfections and strives incessantly to overcome them. All his efforts are focused on being able to say to himself tomorrow that he is better than he was yesterday.
He does not seek to exalt his spirit or talents at the expense of others; instead, he seizes every opportunity to point out what is praiseworthy in other people.
He does not boast his wealth or his personal advantages, for he knows that everything that has been given to him can be taken away.
He uses but does not abuse the possessions that have been accorded to him, for he knows that they are a trust fund which he will have to account for, and that the worst use of it in regard to himself would be to use them to satisfy his passions.
If social order has placed other men under his dependence, he treats them with goodness and kindness, because he is their equal before God. He uses his authority to lift their morale, and not to crush them with his pride. He avoids anything that could render their subordinates’ position more painful.
Those who are in a subordinate position, on the other hand, understand the duties of their position and are scrupulous in consciously fulfilling them. (See chap. 17, no. 9)
Finally, he respects all the rights that the laws of nature have granted to others, as he would want them to respect his own rights as well.
This is not a list of all the qualities that define the good man, but he who makes an effort to possess them is on the road that leads to all the others.
(Allan Kardec, The Gospel according to Spiritism, chapter 17, “Be Perfect”)