Goodness, No. 6 in our list of fruits of the Spirit
Wow! I confess I did not know where to start with this one. As I read more and more and studied writings and sermons, and read the Scriptures I could find on goodness, I realized just how big this subject is and how very little space we have to tackle it here in one column. Goodness is very important to God, and it is the sixth of the nine fruits listed in our reference verses found in Galatians.
Don Hooser, a Texas minister, wrote, “The spiritual fruit of goodness enables a sinful man to do good and to be good — good in the truest sense of the word. Goodness, after all, is the essence of God’s nature.” Hooser asked, “Are you suffering an internal spiritual war. If so, that’s a good sign. It is a sign that you are pursuing goodness, which causes the badness of human nature to fight back.”
As we learn Scripture, pray and are around other Christians, our walk takes on different dimensions. We may want to do good and start out on that path, but the devil will put up roadblocks every chance he gets. It is his business to deter us or cause us to chase rabbit trails, as my old preacher often said. We have to regroup, read our Bibles, pray and set out again to serve God and be good in our lives.
It is usually much easier to do bad than good. Badness comes naturally to our sinful bodies. Goodness does not. We have to work on that character trait. God has a wondrous plan to radically transform our character. When a man or woman commits their life to God and sets out to serve him, the old friends perhaps will not feel comfortable in the transition. The things of old that the new convert participated in will not longer have the enticement they once had. They will not feel comfortable doing the things they once did with glee. Instead, they will want to live right, attend the services of the church, spend time in prayer, invest their money more wisely, and perhaps help people along the way.
As they understand the great truth that the dear Holy Spirit now lives inside, they will continue to grow and to turn from the things of sin that once held them so tightly. He is there to help the new Christian discover the wonderful truth of salvation and service.
“By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit” (1 John 4:13). We are not in this alone, folks. God is with us. God wants us to be good and to have lives filled with goodness. He also wants His children to be happy, comforted and able to comfort those with whom we come into contact. That is one of the main reasons we have the wonderful fruits of the Spirit so that He can work within us. These nine virtues, or character traits, can blend together to reflect God in us.
What are we thinking about as we read these words today? “Finally, my brothers and sisters, always think about what is true. Think about what is noble, right and pure. Think about what is lovely and worthy of respect. If anything is worthy of praise, think about those kinds of things” (Philippians 4:8). If we are going to exhibit goodness in our lives, we have to turn our hearts and minds toward good things and dwell on them. Our lives are so filled with fighting, war, hate, jealousy, evil, bad images, pornography, death, disease and ugliness that we have little room for goodness and happiness.
The “goodness” as described in the list of the fruits of the Spirit is not merely good moral behavior, but an excellence of character. It combines our desire and attempt to be good with God’s very character of being good. This goodness is only reachable through God’s divine power at work in our hearts (2 Peter 1:3). Goodness begins by our obeying the greatest commandment of all — loving God with all our heart, soul, and strength.
Are we ready to seek to live the truly good life, filled with goodness and grace?