It's popular to say, "God is good, all the time," because we know the goodness of God is amazing. But what about mankind? Jesus told the rich young ruler that no one is good but God only. (Mark 10:18) So how can the Lord ask Christians to bear the fruit of goodness in their personal lives? Is that even possible? Before we address that question, let's talk more about God's goodness.
There Is No One Like Our God
Moses once asked the Lord, “Please, show me your glory.” He answered, “I will make all my goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before you.” (Exodus 33:18-19) God’s goodness and name reveal His glory.
The Lord then proclaimed His name, “The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin…” (Exodus 34:6)
God’s goodness is proclaimed by his name. (If you want to know what God is like, he describes who he is right here. The Lord is first of all merciful, then gracious, long-suffering, and full of goodness and truth.) The book of Psalms praises God’s goodness continually. For example, "Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! For his mercy endures forever." (Psalm 136:1) Every verse in this psalm contains the refrain, "For his mercy endures forever." He's hoping we'll get the picture.
There is no one like our God, who is full of glory and goodness and mercy and grace! The Lord is awesome, and yet out of that glory he turns to you and me and asks us to bring forth the fruit of goodness.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
God Is Good But What About Mankind?
However, as we observe the human race, we often notice the opposite of goodness, including corruption, dishonesty, evil, immorality, and meanness. But sometimes we see both good people and bad people doing good deeds and speaking kind words. Of course, that doesn’t mean they are good one hundred per cent of the time, but we all have our moments, right? But certainly God is the only One who is essentially and consistently and thoroughly good with no trace of evil.
So the big question is, How can a man or woman be good? How can we bring forth the spiritual fruit of goodness?
How Can We Tap into the Goodness of God?
There is only one way to bear the fruit of goodness and that is to have the source of goodness (God) living inside us. One of the most hope-giving verses in the Bible is this:
2 Peter 1:4 (NLT) And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.
We Are Partakers of the Divine Nature
In the new birth we are born again of God. This means His Spirit is joined to our spirit in such a way that He shares His divine nature with us, making us new creations. The new birth imparts God’s goodness to our hearts, restoring us to the image of our Father. But to bring forth the fruit of goodness, we must allow God's goodness to guide and shape our behavior, and for the expressions of that goodness not to be quenched by our thoughts, emotions, will, or selfish desires.
The goodness of God within our spirit will work its way out into our mind, will, emotions, and actions. The Holy Spirit tutors us to speak good words and do good works as we strengthen our spirit through worship, renew our mind by meditating in God's Word, and pray for God's help. It's by interacting with God's Spirit that the fruit of goodness works its way outward from our heart to our actions.
The Difference Between Kindness and Goodness
Kindness and goodness are next to each other in Paul's list of the fruit of the Spirit. They are related because they both originate in the love of God poured out in our hearts. (Romans 5:5) (All the meanings of the fruit of the Spirit overlap each other, because it is one singular fruit, manifesting in different ways.) While kindness is the benevolent, tender nature of the Spirit, the fruit of goodness is the outward expression of that nature energized by the same Spirit.
So goodness (agathosune) is that inner moral quality known best by its manifestations, such as good words, good deeds, good works, and good fruit. “A good man [or woman] out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good.” (Luke 6:45)
We Are to Imitate God’s Goodness.
Since we know that God is good, the Word of God instructs us to bear the fruit of goodness that He placed in our hearts.
- We are to cling to what is good and shrink from what is evil. Romans 12:9
- We overcome evil with good. Romans 12:21
- We are created by God for good works. Ephesians 2:10
- We are to do good to all, especially to the household of faith. Galatians 6:10
- We are to speak good words from a good heart. Matthew 12:34-35, Ephesians 4:28
- We are full of goodness (which is like a moral compass) and able to admonish one another by instructing, teaching, and warning. Romans 15:14
- By walking in goodness, we glorify Christ. 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12
- Our good will be rewarded. Ephesians 6:8, Matthew 25:21, 23
What a privilege it is to be temples of the Holy Spirit, who imparts to us the divine nature and allows us to be God's hands and feet, extending His goodness to those around us.
QUESTION: How have you changed since you were born again? Please let us know in the Comments section below one way you are planning to express God's goodness this week.