I wasn’t really sure what to say about goodness. I have struggled to know what to write, because I really wasn’t sure how it was different from kindness. It seems to me that if you are showing kindness, you are showing goodness. However, the Bible differentiates between the two, so they are different.
We tell our kids to be good, and what do we mean? We’re not asking them to be perfect. We aren’t asking them to be angels. We just want them to act like decent human beings who have a mother and father. Instead of telling the Beetle to be good when he was little, for some reason, I always used the phrase, “Behave.” He would say, “I’m bein’ have, Mama!” I can still hear his little voice telling me that. I want to make sure I’m bein’ have for God!
So, if we are going to develop goodness as a fruit of the spirit, how are we going to change? I think we will begin to act like we are decent human beings who have a Father. As we become more like Him, we will naturally develop goodness, because God is good. Just as we wait when our kids are little to see them show signs of a conscience and goodness toward others, I think God watches for us to show signs of a conscience and goodness. We are proud when our kids quote us (assuming they are quoting something good we taught them), and God is proud when we quote Him.
A dear preacher that Mr. Everything and I have known for a long time always says, “God is good all the time.” When he preaches, he has the congregation finish the statement. He’ll say, “God is good,” and the people will say, “All the time.” He repeats this several times. His point is that God is good, even when things aren’t going our way. He is right. God is good all the time.
So, if God is good all the time, it only makes sense that as we develop in Him, we will become more like him by growing goodness as a fruit.
Psalm 31:19 says, “Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the children of mankind!”
The fruits of the spirit are not a grocery list of things we have to force ourselves to do. Instead, they are a promise of things we can expect to see in ourselves and other Christians as we grow. As we grow in God, we can look forward to bearing more fruit, including goodness. What are some signs that we are becoming good?
We begin to look for ways to help others. Instead of waiting for others to ask for help, we seek ways to bless them. Galatians 6:10 says, “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” This morning in church, it was announced that someone had put gas cards out in the foyer for anyone who needed them. They were free to take with no strings and no obligation. The person just wanted to be sure there was no one who was worried about how to pay for gas to get home. That’s goodness in action.
We treat others as we want to be treated. Matthew 7:12 is known as the “Golden Rule.” You can quote it with me, I’m sure. I have to quote in the version that I learned it in: “Do unto others as you would have done unto you.” This really is easier said than done, but it is a great rule to live by. When we follow this rule, we are showing the goodness that only comes through God.
We change our focus. Colossians 3:2 says, “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” The things in this world become less important. If this world is all there is to offer in life, that’s sad. But, if we can look forward to eternal reward in heaven, every tear, every sadness, every hurt and every pain will have been worth it. As we grow closer to God, we become more like him, and we show his goodness by the things we focus on.
Goodness seems to come easier with experience. For new Christians, focusing on others and focusing on God will not come naturally. We live in a “me” world, and it is hard to let go of those tendencies to look out for ourselves. As we grow in Christ, we will find that being good becomes easier and easier. I hope that one day, putting others first and focusing on God will be second nature. Then, we can know that we have developed the spiritual fruit of goodness. What a great day that will be!
“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.” Psalm 107:1 -Al