When my eldest daughter was little, she loved and admired her grandfather greatly. She loved him to such an extent that if she were caught doing something she shouldn’t, he could just look at her and she’d cry. She wanted so much to please him that she would do anything to be in his good graces. My question for you is, who do you love and admire so much that you would do just about anything in order to please them? You take their advice. You model your behavior and even thoughts after them. You may not even realize you have a relationship like this with someone but you probably do.
The danger is that, as infallible humans, we will invariably get something wrong. It’s how our idols fall into disfavor. Relationships get fractured when the one we’ve placed on the pedestal fails us. There has only been one person that walked this planet who truly deserves that level of devotion – Jesus. So, my other question is, have you placed God at the top of the list of ones you most love and desire to reflect?
Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God. 3 John 11
What exactly is this “good” that is a reflection or imitation of God? The word “good” is written 725 times in our Bible. From Genesis 1:4 all the way to 3 John we read of good and goodness. I’ll take a leap here and say that of all the fruits of the spirit, love, peace and goodness may be the most misunderstood by Christians and especially non-Christians.
When we say something is “good” its use can be as widespread as “loving” something thing. “I love good sourdough bread” is not the same as “loving our neighbors reflects the goodness of God.” The first is a fleshly desire of something made well. The second describes a self-less act imitating the character of God.
God is not merely good, but goodness; goodness is not merely divine, but God.C.S. Lewis
Each one of the fruit of the spirit listed by Paul in Galatians deals with either the state of our soul and/or an action thereof. All of the fruit are a result of the Holy Spirit’s work in us in creating us more like Jesus. Therefore, the “goodness” in this list requires us first to investigate what is the goodness of God?
Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the children of mankind! Psalm 31:19
When you look up the word “goodness” in Strong’s Concordance it has you refer to the index. In the index it equates what goodness refers to in various parts of scripture. All the references are attached to God’s character:
- Abundant (Exodus 34:6)
- Great (Psalm 31:19)
- Enduring (Psalm 52:1)
- Satisfying (Psalm 65:4)
I would add to this list that God’s loving character also brings these other good things to our world: light, faithfulness, joy, mercy, and grace. The words “it was good” are used over and over coming from God’s mouth to describe His glorious creation — His great love in action.
When I said that the word “goodness” or “good” is listed among some of the most misunderstood I meant this – that apart from God no one’s soul imitates this goodness. Yes, even that person that seems really, really good.
If you ask a Humanist or atheist to define their morals or values, they’ll probably list things that actually are God-given commands. The difference is, commands such as “do not steal” become wishy washy depending upon the non-believer’s circumstances. You see, we ALL choose someone or something to imitate and hold up as the pinnacle of moral authority. But non-Christians (and unfortunately some Christians) hold up humans as that authority. And we are and do what we love, made worse when it is ourself.
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. The Greek word translated “goodness,” agathosune, is defined as “uprightness of heart and life.”Got Questions, A Christian Podcast
Righteousness, “uprightness,” can only come from one source: the sacrifice of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He not only cleansed us of the guilt and sin we carry but made it so we can be called to goodness. To reflect the goodness of God.
God wants to be united with us in full. He loves us, brings us joy and peace. He’s asking us to be so in love with Him, so admiring of Him that we too want to fill our souls and the world with light, abundance, mercy and grace. To set aside all other idols and place Him front and center. For when we do, our goodness will naturally lead us to action. Those actions are called love, patience and kindness.
Coming up: Selfishness or Selflessness