by Kevin Burton
The English word “good” is not derived from the word “god” etymologists tell us. But for the sake of defining reality, keep those two words linked.
That which comes from God, or submits and conforms to the word of God is good. All else is not. That’s the message of the Bible.
This is the sixth part of a series on the fruit of the Spirit from Galatians 5. That passage sees the Apostle Paul talk about some evidences of a life surrendered to Christ. Today we’re talking goodness.
“In Galatians 5:22-23, Paul lists the ‘fruit of the Spirit.’ Fruit, here means ‘beneficial results,’ the good things that come from the Spirit’s indwelling,” according to a passage on the website www.gotquestions.org.
“As the Holy Spirit works in our lives, our character changes. Where we had harbored selfishness, cruelty, rebelliousness, and spite, we now possess love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Everything in the list reflects the character of God, and goodness is one that relates directly to morality.”
“Be good.” What a simple admonition. But what does it mean?
On www.etymonline, the Old English word gōd (with a long “o”) is defined as “excellent, fine; valuable; desirable, favorable, beneficial; full, entire, complete;” of abstractions, actions, etc., “beneficial, effective; righteous, pious;” of persons or souls, “righteous, pious, virtuous, having the right or desirable quality.”
Haven’t you heard these arguments? They start off with “How can you say a good, honest, peaceful, tax-paying person will go to hell…”
Well as the sovereign God and Creator of the universe, God has all rights to define what good is. Isn’t that kind of a definition for God, He who defines all and makes those definition stick?”
So all those adjectives from the etymologists are subject to God’s definitions.
“Goodness is virtue and holiness in action. It results in a life characterized by deeds motivated by righteousness and a desire to be a blessing. It’s a moral characteristic of a Spirit-filled person,” reads the gotquestions website.
“The Greek word translated ‘goodness,’ agathosune, is defined as ‘uprightness of heart and life.’ Agathosune is goodness for the benefit of others, not goodness simply for the sake of being virtuous.”
“Someone with agathosune will selflessly act on behalf of others. Confronting someone about a sin demonstrates goodness. So do giving to the poor, providing for one’s children, visiting the sick, volunteering to clean up after a storm, and praying for an enemy. Expressions of goodness are as varied as the Spirit is creative,” the passage reads.
Remember, the fruit of the Spirit is not a list of accomplishments by Christians. It is the work of the Spirit, showing in a life conformed to God.
“Goodness is not a quality we can manufacture on our own,” the passage reads. “James 1:17 says, ‘Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights.’ This certainly includes a life characterized by goodness.”
“In letting the Holy Spirit control us, we are blessed with the fruit of goodness. As others see our good works, they will praise our Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16).
Of course God is the source of all goodness.
“Because God is goodness, He ‘is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made’ (Ps. 145:9),” writes Alistair Begg, speaker on the Truth For Life, radio ministry. “Goodness defines His interaction with His creation. And what’s more, His goodness and uprightness compel Him to lead His children ‘in the way’ and ‘in what is right’ (Ps. 25:8, 9).”
“Though we have rebelled time and time again, attempting to hide ourselves from the searchlight of His kind love, God treats us as a kind father to his children, as a tender farmer to his cattle:
“Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk; I took them up by their arms but they did not know that I healed them. I led them with cords of kindness, with the bands of love, and I became to them as one who eases the yoke on their jaws, and I bent down to them and fed them. (Hos. 11:3–4).”
“God is not in the business of coercing people to Himself. He comes in His kindness and in His goodness, fully aware of our wretched predicament,” Begg writes. “He is, indeed, ‘kind to the ungrateful and the evil’ (Luke 6:35).”
As we become more and more yielded to Jesus, this goodness should show itself as fruit in our lives across the board, in our actions toward not just our loved ones, but also those who do us wrong.