Fruit of the Spirit – Goodness
Pastor Julie Shannon
We are continuing on with our series on the “Fruit of the Spirit” based on the scripture in Galatians chapter 5,.So far we have learned that the term fruit in this passage is meaning one whole fruit and not separate “fruits”, and just like a beautiful and healthy apple tree produces large and juicy fruit; we Christians are wanting to produce good fruit also. To this point we have learnt about love, joy, peace, patience and kindness as qualities that will help us to be fruitful as Gods children. We laughed and empathised with Sheree as she taught on patience and were convicted when Peta reminded us all on what the meaning of being kind is, especially remembering our experiences as drivers on the road!
Today I will be speaking on goodness… the word good is thrown around a lot in our culture, people mix it up with the word kindness or something that can appeal to our personal taste: a good show on tv, a good restaurant etc etc… we can even see good as an adjective to describe totally the opposite, “good in bed” “good at hiding the truth” “a good cook” gets used a lot in my home!.
I’ve heard the term many times, “the fight between good and evil”, and rightly we can refer this to the fight we have as Christians here on earth between the things of God and of our enemy Satan. But for us to win this fight and not be consumed with evil; we need to understand Goodness.
The word the apostle Paul uses here in the original language is Agathos – this word describes the disposition and character of a person who is benevolent, or full of good will or charity – towards others. Goodness is quite different from other qualities like gentleness; it also defines more than what the word kindness reveals to us. A way of understanding what Paul was meaning here is to think of goodness as – our inner qualities of love, peace joy etc, of virtue and obedience being energized and brought to the fore, made obvious through our behaviour. We can’t hide goodness under a rock, it is something that is eventually seen. Goodness has to involve other people, throughout scripture when the same word has been used; it indicates an almost zealous activity in doing good, whereas kindness or gentleness is more passive. Jesus showed Agathos (goodness) when he cleansed the Temple and drove out those who were not honouring the Father. Whereas he showed Chrestotes (kindness) to the sinning woman who anointed his feet. Christians need this quality… goodness is both kind and strong. Agathos or goodness might and can rebuke and discipline, whereas chrestotes or kindness can only help.
Now for us to produce goodness our other fruit traits need to be present. Goodness without love is impossible; it becomes just nice, have you ever said, “oh that person is nice, they are sweet and caring , wouldn’t hurt a fly?” Never say a bad word to anyone”, that’s not goodness… that’s niceness!! Goodness has gutz, a person acting out of goodness will love the other so much that they may say the hard word, and they say it through a heart of love, with a patient demeanour, with an inner joy and through kind and gentle expression.
God the Father is a great example of showing us goodness – God is good, is he not? He heals, restores, blesses and saves us. Yet he corrects us, sometimes severely, just as we as parents need to correct our children so they become responsible adults that produce good fruit. The apostle Paul gives us a clear sense of what goodness is in Romans 15: 14 ” Now I myself am confident concerning you, my brethren, that you also are full of goodness, filled with knowledge, able also to correct one another.”
The word in the Greek is in the active tense, it could even be said to be “aggressive”. So when we are wondering why we are so passive sometimes, check out your inner motives. ..How are you going in the other areas that have already been spoken about in this series? Because aggressive goodness results when the other traits reflect a heart whose righteousness flows from inward devotion and love to God. Goodness comes when our central and most inner motives love God and regard His will and heart in ALL things.
This involves commitment and cost, it takes sacrifice to grow and mature…it doesn’t just happen, it takes risk to allow goodness to begin to work in and through us but without an outworking of goodness flowing out from Christians and into the world we are no good to anyone.
A practical example:
Few people could do the same action of kindness, but only one may do it through goodness. In giving a glass of water to someone it may be…
1. Because they should =obedience only
2. So they can feel good about themselves =pride
3. With a strong and sincere desire to do the right thing = goodness
Stephen King once commented on goodness “It’s better to be good than evil, but one achieves goodness at a terrific cost.” -
He appreciated goodness when he saw it, but realised the sacrifice of self that it involves…
This understanding of goodness means that before we can call any action good, our inner motives must be right.
A good person may have failures, they may struggle in areas, and they are not perfect. What sets someone apart as reflecting goodness is the direction of a person’s inner desires, his motivations. The character that is being moulded by God often makes mistakes…but goodness in a person shows an almost moral excellence in allowing God to work in and through you. Only Gods goodness is perfect or absolute, He is our standard to measure ourselves with any area we are growing in. However God expects us to work this one out just as much as he does in other areas; e.g kindness, patience etc. Amos: 5: 14 “seek good, not evil, that you may live. Then the Lord almighty will be with you, just as you say he is. Hate evil, love good…”
The key to goodness is to love the Lord, it is to seek His will in all things, it is to die to self completely and aggressively pursue your own healing and freedom so you can “fight the good fight of faith”, so you can “abound in every good work”, and so you can “have a good reputation with outsiders.” Remember “He that began a good work in you will bring it to completion”, and while He does ;”do not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time you will reap a harvest if you do not give up.”
Paul says it well in Galatians 5: 16 “So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature…”
Work on goodness, look inside yourself, allow Jesus to look too, he knows what’s there anyway. Aggressively pursue the fruit of the spirit in all areas and you will be able to stand. When we are moving in and through the Holy Spirit, it is not difficult to choose good over evil. Jesus is our example of goodness, today as we remember Palm Sunday and our Lord entering Jerusalem into certain death on the back of a donkey. Reflect on His goodness, as His motives both then and now reflect pure goodness.