Galatians 5:22-23 KJV
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
After studying gentleness in the last post, you might wonder what is different between that and goodness, and it would be a good question. After all, gentleness embodied doing good things for others and being humble and considerate. What can possibly be added when discussing goodness? Why this seeming duplication of fruit?
The Greek word used for goodness is not even closely related to gentleness. It is agathósuné. It is used only 4 times in the New Testament and is always translated goodness. This goodness is a natural goodness and in the Greek is only used in terms of spiritual goodness, not secular goodness. It is a goodness that comes from God alone and shows itself as spiritual and moral goodness. This does not have anything to do with what we do for others, but what we are on the inside. It encompasses integrity and virtue. A definition that I like is this: The state of being good, kind, virtuous, benevolent, generous and Godlike in conduct and character.
Guaranteed good works will come out of a person filled with this fruit but there is so much more here. The person who is full of this fruit flows in good character, so anything that comes from him is good. This person is always thinking on the right things, always says the right things and always does the right things. He does not have to change his mind on things or think about the reactions he will have to life situations because the goodness inside him always reacts correctly. This goodness is very Godlike in its conduct, word, thoughts and actions. This fruit is one we should absolutely strive for, and overflow with. Imagine a world filled with people basking in this fruit!!!
6 And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,
The word goodness here is the Hebrew word chesed and is most often translated lovingkindness. Take a hard look at those two words linked together. Loving and kindness – what a powerful combination. This is what God’s goodness means to us. It means He will be loving to us and show us kindness every day. No matter what we may do or say, not matter how far we might drift, no matter what obstacle seems to be in our way, He will show us lovingkindness – goodness. Romans 8:38-39 tells us that nothing can separate us from the love of God. That is His goodness working – His lovingkindness.
The person filled with this fruit does not allow petty offenses, whether in word or deed, to stop their lovingkindness/goodness from being displayed toward the believer or the unbeliever. Especially the unbeliever! Their goodness overrides any hurt and continues to show love to those that might do them wrong. Can you begin to see why this fruit is so important? It is the one that brings us to a place of loving our enemies and reaching out to them to show them the love of Christ. It is vital to us all!
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
Of all the things that we would want to follow us all the days of our lives, the Psalmist narrows it down to two things – goodness and mercy. This 23rd Psalm is beloved by all and is a go to verse in times of trouble of fatigue. David captures the heart of every believer here and many of us can recite it anytime we come to a place of trouble. It calms and soothes us with its masterful words. When it all comes to an end, goodness and mercy are what the Psalmist wants following him. Why these two things? Why not grace, or love, or peace, or joy, or hope, or any other thing that God supplies?
Mercy is a natural here. We would be completely lost without God’s mercy. Christ is God’s mercy displayed, His salvation completed and provided for us on the cross. He had mercy on us all the days we were not saved, and He still extends His mercy once we are saved. Without mercy, we would all perish tomorrow! Mercy must be with us all our days, so the psalmist hits a home run with that attribute of God.
Goodness is something we overlook, mostly because we do not understand it I think. But His goodness must follow us or the troubles of this world will cause us to remove ourselves from the love He says we must display. His goodness is what keeps us walking in that God-like love that brings us peace and joy in the midst of troubles. It brings us hope to restore our relationships in the midst of offenses. This goodness is what gives us strength to love our enemies and do good to those who persecute us. It keeps us praying for those who despitefully use us. Without this fruit of goodness following us, all these things would fade. How essential is it? Extremely essential!
19 Oh how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee; which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee before the sons of men!
20 Thou shalt hide them in the secret of thy presence from the pride of man: thou shalt keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues.
Notice what God’s goodness does for us, as described by the psalmist. First, it was laid up, or set aside, for all who fear Him, for all who hold Him in high esteem. It is something He has saved for us! It is an attribute He has worked in us when we trust in Him. Goodness becomes stronger in us when we trust Him in the difficult times. This trust allows us to overlook the faults of others and spend our times thinking on His goodness instead. What a treat this is for us!
His goodness hides us in His presence! What a wonderful place this is. I want to dwell in His presence, feast at His table and bask in His glory. When I do, the pride of man cannot affect me. It cannot hurt me. Their words will bounce away, their actions will be cast aside, and only goodness will be on my mind. His goodness. He will also keep me in a pavilion, a fortress, a refuge. This place will guard me from the evil tongue pf my enemy. Their words will not overcome my faith and hope. They will not be able to turn me against them, no matter what they say. The will not be able to offend me with any words that might come out because I am hid in Christ. They will not cause me any strife whatsoever. I will rest in my God and in His goodness!
8 Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!
9 For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.
Are you hungry for more of God? Are you hungry for whatever He has for you? If you are, He will fill you with goodness! Goodness that contains all the other attributes we need to be Godlike in this world of hurt and strife. He will satisfy us with the goodness He has. This goodness will bring us peace, joy, hope, love, patience – all the things that define who God is. It will bring us to move in mercy and grace to those who might try to bring out the worst in us.
And those people are out there. There are people who will do anything they can to try and show we are not really Christians. They goad us, tease us, offend us, do harm to us, lie to us, cheat us and do all manner of evil against us. Their desire is to see us react with a worldly reaction. But we have been filled with goodness! When we are filled with goodness, that is what will be visible to those who try and turn us away from Godlike character. Be hungry – and be filled!
I think I will leave off there. You can see how essential this fruit of goodness is to us. I bet you always thought this was about being good! Right? Goodness is so much more than that. It runs much deeper than that. It is our very conduct and character. Our very existence! If you find yourself lacking with this assurance, this goodness, ask the Lord and be hungry. As we have seen – He will fill you with goodness!