Growing up we may have heard our parents admonish, ‘Be Good’. And recurring in our everyday conversations is the word, good , from describing how our day has been, to something we ate, someone we know or time spent on something. And in doing so, good can be a term that can be used to depict something between short of great and better than average.
Probably tainted with what the world defines as good, nestled right in the midst of all the other virtues of the fruit of the spirit, sometimes goodness can seem a little less weighty.
The true value of the spiritual fruit of goodness comes from understanding that the standard of goodness is marked by the integrity of the character of God. His character is unmatched, perfect, pure and holy. As Ps 119:68 says “God is good and does Good.”
Goodness of God
Jesus says in Mark 10:18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone.”
When reading this verse, we can wonder why Jesus would not readily accept being called good, after all he is Jesus, but in doing so let us not miss out on the fact that Jesus gives us a clear pointer to what should be our definition of good and that is God alone.
God’s goodness is the source of all the goodness in the world. Scripture tells us in many places that goodness is the essence of who God is.
Good and upright is the Lord (Ps 28:5)
For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you. (Ps. 86:5)
For the LORD is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting And His faithfulness to all generations. (Ps. 100:5)
Praise the LORD! Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; For His lovingkindness is everlasting. (Ps. 106:1)
Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, For His lovingkindness is everlasting. (Ps. 107:1)
Christ – God’s goodness in person and our example
Titus 3:4-5 says “When the goodness and loving kindness of God our Saviour appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy.” His goodness and kindness is manifested in Christ, who atoned for our sins. The cross was the greatest demonstration of His goodness, kindness and love for us. He was obedient to death for us and to God.
As we grow in Christ we are called to be more like Jesus and in doing so we are to reflect more of His goodness in our lives. And it is springs from the work of the spirit in us, characterised by Godly love and righteousness, seeking the good of others and for the Joy of the Lord.
3 John 1:11 says “Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God.”
Christ in us enables us to not act out our selfish sinful nature but set aside those qualities and reflect the nature of God in us. We cannot do any good on our own, our own acts may seem good but scripture reminds us that our acts of righteousness are like filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6).
In Acts 10:38 we read Peter talk about the goodness of Jesus’s ministry “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with Him.”
Jesus, even though fully God, when he came as man, surrendered to God. He went around doing good by being empowered by the Holy spirit and God was with Him.
How can we reflect any goodness if our hearts are not surrendered to the Lord? As our divine potter keeps shaping us, the clay, that is us, has to remain as plaint as possible to be able to be formed into that which our divine potter intends to. And that pliancy involves living a life of surrender and obedience to God.
Purposed for Good works
Ephesians 2:10 says “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
He created us for good works and Titus 2:8 tells us that we are to devote ourselves to doing good works.
Goodness is more than a virtue, it is action. God’s goodness poured out in His actions and we are to reflect His goodness in the same manner. I think we can glaze over what scripture says about devoting ourselves to doing good works. Being devoted to something means being focused on that particular thing almost exclusively. It means being faithful and steadfast to that which we are devoted to. Devoting oneself entails pursuing it, making an effort because our nature might not want to extend good works to every person that God calls us to. And devoted means it is important enough a reason to you. If it matters to God it should matter to us.
In the Parable of The Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37, although the term good was not used in the text except in the title, we cannot deny that the actions of the Samaritan were genuine, helpful and therefore good. He helped the hurt man above and beyond what was expected and he did it without expecting anything in return. What he did was selfless and seeking the benefit of only the man who received his help. And Jesus says at the end of the parable, ‘Go and do likewise’
Take a moment and reflect on these questions?
- How are you demonstrating His goodness to those around you?
- Is the good you do, according to His standard or the world’s?
- Will you with equal zeal do good if it goes unnoticed?
As the spiritual fruit of goodness manifests in the life of a Christ follower, it serves as a powerful means for others to experience and know about Christ’s work in our lives.
Mathew 5:16 says “Let your light shine before others so that they may see your good deeds and glorify your father in heaven.”
Goodness manifested in actions, is not only about big or obvious acts. It is the small things we can do, being there for a friend, listening to someone, praying for them or even praying for someone who does not know you are doing it. No one may notice these small acts, but God does and we do it for Him and bring glory to His name.
It is through God alone we can show any goodness at all and it is for Him that we do good works, to bring Him glory and fulfill our kingdom purpose.