But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The law is not against such things.Galatians 5:22-23
Hello, everyone! It’s hard to believe we’ve made it to the sixth fruit of the Spirit already: goodness! I have been thoroughly enjoying thinking through these fruits and how they should be evident in our lives. Here are the ones we’ve covered so far:
When I think of the word goodness in the Christian context, I usually think of the song “Goodness of God” by Bethel Music. I think of the simple fact that “God is good.” But as I was pondering this post, I thought, “How are we supposed to bear the fruit of goodness? No one is good except God alone.” It was actually quite interesting to think that goodness is supposed to be a part of our lives. We are supposed to be filled with goodness so that we can radiate goodness.
But…what exactly is goodness? It isn’t enough to simply be “good” because not all “good” people go to Heaven… right?
Faith or Works?
Ephesians 2:8-10 says: “For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift–not from works, so that no one can boast. For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.”
We are saved by grace through faith. Our salvation is never something we can earn, as the verse says that it is not from works. However, He created us for good works.
This is one of the seemingly paradoxical teachings of the Bible: Paul repeats over and over that our salvation is through faith, but James tells us that our faith without works is dead. So which is correct? Do we need good works, or is simple faith enough?
“But when the goodness of God and his love for mankind appeared, He saved us–not by works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy, through the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit.” (Titus 3:4-7)
Here is how I have come to understand this: We are saved through grace by faith and grace by faith alone. Period. However, if we have been granted salvation and filled with goodness, we will produce good fruit through our actions. According to Matthew 12:33-35, if we have been granted salvation and filled with goodness, it is impossible for us to bear bad fruit, because a tree is known by its fruit:
“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit. Brood of vipers! How can you speak good things when you are evil? For the mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart. A good man produces good things from his storeroom of good, and an evil man produces evil things from his storeroom of evil.”
Good works are the evidence that we’ve been truly changed.
We Must Be Filled With the Goodness of God
If we want to live a good life and hear “well done, my good and faithful servant,” we must first be filled with the goodness of God. Because as the Matthew passage states, a good man will produce good things from his storeroom of good.
We must fill our hearts with goodness, for it says that “the mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart.” And Proverbs 23:7a says, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he:” As we have seen with the other fruits, goodness starts on the inside: in our hearts and minds.
If we think good thoughts about others, we are more likely to be kind to them as opposed to if we tear them down. If we dwell on the good side–the bright side–we are more likely to be joyful and thankful for what we have rather than be bitter about what we don’t. We need to allow ourselves to be filled with the goodness of God by spending time in His word and meditating on His goodness, because we cannot give what we do not have. We cannot share what we ourselves have yet to find.
Goodness is Found in the Light
The opposite of goodness is evil, and evil thrives in the dark. The secret, hidden places of our hearts are where we store our worst realities and ugliest fears. But allowing the Light of God to shine through in those places, to search us and to know us, is how we begin to rid ourselves of our sin and instead fill ourselves with the song of His salvation. Darkness is forced to flee at the good name of Jesus!
“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light–for the fruit of the light results in all goodness, righteousness, and truth–discerning what is pleasing to the Lord. Don’t participate in the fruitless works of darkness, but instead expose them.” (Ephesians 5:8-11)
Goodness is meant to light our hearts with truth, to set us free, and to be a reminder of Who has the ultimate victory over the darkness of the evil one. The word gospel literally means “the good news!” And we have been tasked with taking its message to the ends of the earth. Let us not hide it, for we have been commanded to let this light shine so that others may see our good works and glorify God.
“In the same way, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)
Since we have been given the Good News, we should desire to share that Good News with others. The abundant goodness of God is meant to be shared. God’s Light is intended to help others see.
God is Good All the Time, and All the Time, God is Good
The Bible tells us that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8). We are also told that He does not change like shifting shadows:
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (James 1:17, CSB)
If we believe God to be good one day, then we have to trust that He is still good the next. Even if our circumstances change and our world seems to spin out of control, God remains good. He cannot be anything other than good, for as I have already said, the opposite of good is evil.
God is good all the time. And all the time, God is good.
Because we are sinful human beings, we unfortunately do not have this same consistency in our track record. We all fall short and revert back to our evil ways. We all at one time or another have run back to the darkness. But the good news is that, while we may fall short, God never will. God will never turn His back on us, even when we choose not to act like the Children of Light that we are.
Thank God for His goodness!
“Do not remember the sins of my youth or my acts of rebellion; in keeping with your faithful love, remember me because of your goodness, Lord. The Lord is good and upright; therefore He shows sinners the way.” (Psalm 25:7-8)
“Only goodness and faithful love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord as long as I live.” (Psalm 23:6)
I never realized just how many verses in the Bible talk about goodness, or how important it is that we bear the fruit of goodness. But it should be obvious by now that this quality is important to God! He has blessed us with His goodness, His grace through faith. I pray that it would be our hearts’ desire to do all we can to thank Him for His gift beyond words, and to spread the Good News and Light wherever we go. Let us spend time in His Word so that we may be filled with His goodness. Let us pray that we continue to grow in this way.
May the Lord bless you this week! I’m looking forward to sharing my thoughts on faithfulness with you as we continue the series.