Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
What do you think of when I mention the word ‘goodness’? Lots of ideas probably come to mind.
We often say, I know he is a good person—someone we may admire and respect, as a person who is true and honest in what they do and say. Maybe we could say today that goodness is doing the right thing for the right reason.
A Word Of Many Meanings
One of our problems with goodness is the same problem we have with the word ‘love’. The word ‘good’ is used in so many ways, just as we use the word ‘love’. We love our children, we love ice cream, and we love a beautiful sunset, but each of these ‘loves’ is entirely different.
It’s the same with the word ‘good’. We say, I had a good meal, or I met a good person, or We had a good cry.
They’re different, aren’t they?
So let’s look at how the word ‘good’ is used in the Bible. For instance, we read in the opening chapters of Genesis that God created the heavens and the earth, and then he created life in the sea and in the air and on the ground. After each creation, God looked at it and said, “It is good.”
So, What Is The Meaning Of Good?
What does that mean? Well, I guess it means that when God looked at what he had done, he was pleased with it. So maybe we could say, Goodness means something that pleases God. Or maybe we could go a step further and say, A good person is a person who is pleasing to God.
The Bible also tells us that God is good. Now what makes God good? Well, God is pure, God is holy, God is forgiving, God is generous. So therefore, if we’re good people, then all those characteristics would be true of us, too.
Now what makes God good?
But let me give you another definition of goodness. It is a pretty simple definition. But if you’ll remember it, I think you’ll begin to see the value of goodness: Goodness is doing the right thing for the right reason.
Now I suppose we could do the right thing for the wrong reason. I suppose that we could even do the wrong thing for the right reason. But goodness is doing the right thing for the right reason. Did you know the Bible lists ‘goodness’ in what we call the fruit of the Spirit? ‘Goodness’ is listed in qualities in Galatians 5:22: “…the fruit of the Spirit is…goodness”.
Jesus, The Perfect Example Of Goodness
To have a good demonstration, let’s look for a moment to Jesus. When you want perfect love, look at Jesus. When you want joy and peace, look at Jesus. And the same is true of goodness.
In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus talks about a good tree and a bad tree. He says that the “good tree produces good fruit, but a bad tree produces bad fruit” (Matthew 7:17). And he says, “The good tree cannot produce bad fruit, and the bad tree cannot produce good fruit.” Then he says, “If the good tree does not produce good fruit, we cut it down and throw it into the fire.” He ends it by saying, “By their fruit you will recognize them.”
Four Ways To Goodness
So the question is, What kind of fruit are we producing? And as you look at the fruit, do you see goodness? Is it there? Well, here are four ways to display goodness.
1. We can display God’s goodness by being forgiving.
Listen to Matthew 6:14-15, “If you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Now those are frightening verses, because they say that if I’m not forgiving, then I cannot be forgiven. If I go around holding grudges, then I won’t receive the forgiveness of God because it is blocked by my unforgiving spirit.
2. The second step is purity.
We can display goodness by being morally pure. Now that is countercultural because our culture embraces impurity, and is constantly telling us that everybody is doing it. But the Bible doesn’t say that. And if you’re going to be a good person, you are to be a pure person, keeping your life pure before the Lord.
3. The third way we display goodness is through graciousness.
In 2 Corinthians 5:17 we read that when we are in Christ, we’re a new creation. Now why are we new? We’re new because God has changed us.
Robert Keller once wrote: “It is the good person, the gracious soul, the generous heart who helps the down-trodden.” So the gracious person is one who has a heart of compassion. He looks around and sees others who are suffering and need his help. So wherever he can reach out and help them, he does.
4. Finally, we express goodness through generosity.
In 1 John 3:1 we read, “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us.” It is so much love that we cannot even receive it all. God is a giving God: “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.” And he gives and he gives and he gives some more.
So in turn, then, if we are to participate in the goodness of God we need to become generous, too. But that’s a touchy subject, isn’t it? Shouldn’t we give cheerfully? Shouldn’t we give because God has given us so much? Shouldn’t we give just because we love to give to God?
Someone has said, You never look more like God than when you are giving. Don’t give out of guilt. Don’t give out of obligation. Give because it’s the right thing to do.
“Goodness – Fruit of the Spirit”
By Melvin M. Newland