An Exploration of Galatians: Fruit of the Spirit Part 7
Galatias 5:22-23 - Goodness is the moral backbone and strength needed by believers to bring the holiness of God’s kingdom to Earth.
”But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.“
Galatians 5:22-23 NASB1995
The sixth fruit of the Spirit and the third that is between us and other people is goodness. Goodness comes from the Greek word ἀγαθωσύνη or agathosyne (agathosune) meaning uprightness of heart of life, virtue. Goodness is directly related to Christian virtue and holiness and is unachievable in the human without the Holy Spirit embedding it within us and always pointing to actions of goodness.
Here’s a nice description of the fruit of the Spirit of Goodness from Gotquestions.org:
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." 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 [the acts of] 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.
Goodness is not a quality we can manufacture on our own. 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).
This explanation pretty much covers it, in my opinion. Goodness is motivated by righteousness, acting selflessly on behalf of others, including upholding God’s moral precepts. When we counsel a sinner, give to the poor, provide for our families, volunteer to help others, and pray for our enemies, we are acting with goodness. It’s even better when we can do these things with love, patience and kindness. I saw another short explanation that said Jesus was kind when He dealt with the woman who anointed His feet; He was good when He drove the moneychangers from the temple. Goodness gives a moral compass, firm foundation and strength to kindness.
In the rush to be kind to everyone, many mainstream churches today think they are being good by embracing cultural heresies that contradict God’s goodness manifested through His holy precepts. Sin is not mentioned or is airbrushed away or the only sin that some churches focus on is the racism that they claim is in the heart of every “privileged” person (which is, in itself, a form of racism, because those privileged people they denigrate are all of one race). Paul listed many deeds of the flesh earlier in this same fifth chapter of Galatians and I walked through those in some detail. Is it goodness to claim those deeds do not exist or should be modernized and watered down to match current cultural norms?
I would counter that it is NOT good and the persons advocating these positions are doing the opposite of goodness as manifested by the Holy Spirit in believers (they are doing evil). Lately, we’ve been treated to leaders in various Christian denominations speculating that hell is empty or sparsely populated. They confuse God’s love, patience and kindness with an “everybody gets saved” universalism that is unfounded in Scripture. Goodness means helping potential new believers to know and understand that one of the things they must do is repent of their sins. They also must believe that Jesus is the ONLY way, truth and life. Again, turning to Gotquestions.org, here is an explanation of the Gospel of Inclusion (universalism):
1) The gospel of inclusion says that the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ paid the price for all of humanity to enjoy eternal life in heaven without any need for repentance.
(2) The gospel of inclusion teaches that salvation is unconditional and does not even require faith in Jesus Christ as the payment for mankind’s sin debt.
(3) The gospel of inclusion believes that all humanity is destined to life in heaven whether or not they realize it.
(4) The gospel of inclusion declares that all humanity will go to heaven regardless of religious affiliation.
(5) Lastly, the gospel of inclusion holds that only those who intentionally and consciously reject the grace of God—after having “tasted the fruit” of His grace—will spend eternity separated from God.
The gospel of inclusion runs counter to the clear teachings of Jesus and the Bible. In John’s Gospel, Jesus clearly states that the only path to salvation is through Him (John 14:6). God sent Jesus into the world to secure salvation for fallen humanity, but that salvation is only available to those who place their faith in Jesus Christ as God’s payment for their sin (John 3:16). The apostles echo this message (Ephesians 2:8–9; 1 Peter 1:8–9; 1 John 5:13). Faith in Jesus Christ means no longer trying to secure salvation based on works, but rather trusting that what Jesus did was sufficient to secure salvation.
In conjunction with faith is repentance. The two go hand-in-hand. Repentance is a change of mind about your sin and need for salvation through Christ by faith (Acts 2:38). The act of repentance is one in which we acknowledge that, before God, we’re sinners incapable of earning our way to salvation. When we repent of our sins, we turn away from them and seek Christ by faith.
Goodness is certainly not found in churches celebrating sin or trying to be reconciling with other world religions, pretending that they are just one of many ways to the afterlife. The true Gospel message is offensive to many, which is why Paul advises believers to ask for the many different fruits of the Spirit to aid them in preaching the message of salvation to others.
P.S. - I had to add this additional thought before this publishes tomorrow (1/20). Tonight (1/19) we watched a phenomenal movie called A Hidden Life that was directed by Terrence Malick and came out in 2019. It is the true story of an Austrian farmer named Franz Jagerstatter in the time of WWII who refused to pledge his allegiance to Hitler when he was drafted into military service because he did not want to give an oath to someone he thought was evil and to serve in an unjust war. He had very strong faith and could be considered someone with goodness and his goodness gave him great strength to resist. He was executed for his stance in August, 1943, leaving his faithful wife and three young daughters behind (she understood and supported him). He was beatified by the Catholic Church in 2007. I highly recommend this film!
My next devotional examines the seventh fruit of the Spirit: Faithfulness.
Heaven on Wheels Daily Prayer:
Dear Lord - Please help me to perform acts of goodness and may they be done with kindness, patience and love. My virtue rests in Your holiness and gift of grace. Amen.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. lockman.org
The Blue Letter Bible was accessed on 1/17/2024 to review the lexicon for goodness.
Gotquestions.org was accessed on 1/17/2024 to review the answers for what is the fruit of goodness and what is universalism (inclusivity).