Today we are talking about the fruit of the Spirit which is goodness. This is more exclusively an attribute of God. In Luke 18 when Jesus was talking to the rich young ruler he called Him “good master” (Luke 18:18). Jesus did not deny that the word applied to Him but He wanted him to see that in the absolute sense the word good can only be applied to God, so Jesus asked him “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone.” We can be good only in a relative sense. And yet the relative sense is also true goodness. It is a reflection of God’s goodness in us because of our faith.
What does goodness mean? It describes the character of a saved person. It could imply being faultless and outgoing. For example when Paul was giving the qualifications for elders in the church in 1Timothy 3:7 he said he must: “Have a good testimony among those who are outside.”
In a paradoxical way Jesus said in Luke 6:26: “Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.” We Christians may suffer reproach from the world for being good. We must distinguish between popularity that comes from compromise and the testimony of goodness that the world sometimes gives despite itself. Somebody may call you for example a goody-goody. Why do they do that? There are certain vices in which we as Christians will not participate. Calling you a goody-goody is a term of derision. I wonder if your life convicts those name callers of the sin in their life. This reminds me of what Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:14-16: “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Jesus is telling us that our goodness can have a positive impact upon others. Some will be attracted to us and others will not. With Christ as our source of goodness we have a security in our life and conduct which others long to have but I believe they will never find because they are looking for the wrong things.
Let me also say we are not saved by our goodness. When people are asked if they are going to heaven when they die, they all often answer yes because I am a good person. Romans 3:12 says, “There is none who does good, no, not one.” Goodness is a result of our changed life not the cause. In Ephesians 2:8-10 Paul said: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”
George W. Bethune in his book The Fruit of the Spirit wrote: “True goodness is not merely impulsive, but rational and considerate—it will therefore pause, and be at some trouble to inquire what service, and how best may it be rendered… Goodness should be willing to give time, and thought, and patience, and even labor, not mere money and kind words and compassionate looks.”
We as Christians are called upon to do good for others in word and in deed. We are to seek to minister to believers and unbelievers alike. True goodness is not only self sacrifice but also untiring. It does not “become weary in doing good” (Galatians 6:9). It does not look to the recipients, or even to the results, of its deeds for its reward. It looks to God alone, and finding His smile of approval, it gains the needed strength to carry on.
See you Sunday.