THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT
- THE SIXTH GRAPE OF THE CLUSTER
Goodness — of God and People
God is Good! People are good. Both of those statements are debatable in the minds and the experiences of some people.
There are some, who have a difficult time believing that God is good and people are good. They have experienced the random violent or inhuman acts of other people. Then there are those who question the goodness of God, because they have suffered the pain of terminal illness or the destruction of floods, tornados or blizzards.
The sixth grape in the cluster group and fruit of God's Spirit in Galatians 5:22 is called goodness. W. Phillip Keller says this in A Gardener Looks at the Fruits of the Spirit, Chapter 10. “Goodness might appear to be the most obvious fruit of God's Gracious Spirit. It is, however, also one of the most maligned and misunderstood.”
Our previous statements about people who have a difficult time believing God is good and that people are good certainly verifies this truth. But there are other reasons why goodness is slandered and misconstrued. There are several passages of scripture that come to mind. One is about God and the other about people.
“As Jesus started on His way, a man ran up to Him and fell on his knees before Him. 'Good teacher,' he asked, 'what must I do to inherit eternal life?' 'Why do you call me good?' Jesus answered. 'No one is good--except God alone.'” (Mark 10:17-18)" As it is written: 'There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.'” (Rom 3:10-12 NIV)
There is a vast difference between how God defines goodness and how people look at goodness. A quote from Keller's book puts it so well. “The goodness of God is not some soft, spineless sentimental indulgence of sensuality. It is not some passing mood of the moment that makes one ‘feel so good.’ It is not an emotional ‘high’ in which reality fades away into some rosy glow of mystical magic.”
Keller goes on to say “Goodness is the rugged reality of God Himself (in His Son Jesus) coming to grips with the awfulness of sin. Goodness is that invincible power of God's own person overcoming evil. The goodness of God is the greatness of His love that dispels our despair and brings His life out of our death. The goodness of God is His generosity and graciousness in giving us Himself by His own Gracious Spirit. It is the enormous energy of His light and life extinguishing the evil in and around us.”
People, who are worldly minded, often make fun of someone in whom they see the goodness of God. They call them “do-gooders” or “goody-goody.” I have even heard the remark “goody two shoes” to describe people, young adults or children who are striving to serve God. At that point goodness is certainly misunderstood. It is true that goodness either attracts people or repels people. Sin and selfishness are certainly exposed in the light of genuine, humble and Godly goodness.
Here is a story of a man, who has experienced a deeper sense of God's goodness. “One night during an evangelistic meeting, a paralytic was wheeled down the aisle and placed near the platform. In the beginning of the service the song leader caught sight of Him and asked, 'What is your favorite hymn?' The paralytic immediately answered, ‘Count Your Blessings!’ There was no complaint from the handicapped man, just a vivid sense of the goodness of God. Our submissiveness to God spells satisfaction for our lot on earth. This is the truth and the reality of the Beatitude, ‘Blessed are the meek; for they shall inherit the earth.’ This paralytic is surely heir to a greater part of earth than many a millionaire. Meekness, in this sense, is a power—the power to feel satisfaction with what God gives, the power not to merely endure it but to enjoy it to the fullest and to use it for His purpose.”
How does a person become good with the goodness of God? First, an individual trusts in the love of God and must accept Jesus Christ and what he did on the Cross. One must believe that Christ suffered the consequences of their sins and selfishness so one may know and experience the goodness of God. Next we must surrender to the work of the Master Gardener, letting Him care for and cultivate our inner being with His love, tender care and gracious truth. Finally, we need to keep our lives clean and uncluttered. Let us keep our lives from being sucked dry with the temporary weedy things of this earthly life.
May we let the Master Gardener Cleanse, Care for and Cultivate our Lives with His Goodness!
Pastor Perry DeGroot