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The Fruit Of The Spirit Is Love (Part 6. Love's Aspect - Goodness)
Although this article is part of a series, it is a complete study on its own. (6 of 9 in series)
* all [bracketed] words in Scripture verses are mine *
Love's Aspect - Goodness
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, fath, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law." (Galatians 5:22-23)
In our series on the fruit of the Spirit we have reached that facet of love we call goodness. As very young children, we are told stories where there is a clear distinction between good and bad. Psychologists are aware there is a danger in morally confusing a child, if you mix good and bad in such a way as to make them indistinct from one another. Children's books are written in a clear and concise manner with good heroes and bad villains. The issues are not muddled where good loses its significance and bad gains credibility as "not so bad." Then something happens as a child grows. A song will describe something bad or an attitude generally known as bad will be given credence as something misunderstood . Lines between good and bad are purposely blurred ostensibly to give a child "perspective." In actuality, all that happens is that in the child's mind grows the idea that there is no absolute right, no absolute wrong, even though the Bible clearly states the opposite as true. A thing understood to be bad must be accepted, tolerated and validated. A thing labeled "good" should be treated cautiously, mistrusted, questioned. This is a purposeful directive of Satan to destroy goodness and to elevate evil, all the while confusing the minds of our young people. The "tolerance training" used to start when a young person started college or other schools of higher learning. Then the push to begin more college level material began to enter high school making its way to middle school. Now even grade school and preschool kids are given some form of tolerance training to assure that all ways of life will be received as just as valid as any other.
"Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight." (Isaiah 5:20-21)
"Because with lies you have made the heart of the righteous sad, whom I have not made sad; and you have strengthened the hands of the wicked, so that he does not turn from his wicked way to save his life." (Ezekiel 13:22)
"You have wearied the Lord with your words; yet you say, "In what way have we wearied Him?" In that you say, "Everyone that does evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and He delights in them," or "Where is the God of justice?" (Malachi 2:17)
"For since the creation of the world, His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify them as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools." (Romans 1:20-22)
Popular thinking reflects Satan's will regarding goodness. Goodness is not really desirable these days. Oh, people don't necessarily want to think of themselves as bad, though some do, but most think goodness too lofty to be real. They want to see heroes with their rough sides showing. No one wants to be known as too good . Most people state their vices and wear them as badges of honor. After all, if their image is too good, no one would want to hang with them. People holding to goodness as a standard are seen as weak, soft, or too squeaky clean by some and as judgmental and self-righteous by others. The conclusion is you can't trust someone that holds to goodness. They even have come up the term, "goody-goody" as describing someone that won't allow himself to get too dirty, won't allow herself to have any fun. Having no fun has become equivalent to naive, inexperienced. The best parties are the ones where no one is "being good."
Most people would think they know what goodness means but their idea would fall short of the word as it's used in Galatians (the verse quoted above). Popular notion says that goodness should be opposite of badness or evil . But here in Galatians the word for goodness is synonymous with the word virtue. (ag-ath-o-soo'-nay). That word holds no more respect today than does goodness. People with virtue are thought of as "holier than thou" and just a "snooty" pain to be around. Actually that is wrong on both counts, and about both words. Goodness means you are worthy to be held in high regard. Instead of being a "goody-goody" a person displaying goodness is a man's man (or a woman's woman, for that matter). Virtue too, by definition, is misunderstood, for it means to be ready or qualified to do what is necessary (literally war-worthy). It doesn't mean that a person is so "heavenly-minded" that they're no earthly good.
"Women received their dead raised to life again. Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonments. They were stoned and sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented - of whom the world was not worthy." (Hebrews 11:35-38)
There is an element of honesty to the term good that says that the good man can be trusted. He is valuable as a friend. She is a cut above the rest. While the rest of the world is looking out for #1, she's the one person you know to have moral fiber, enough to inspire confidence. He's the guy that will let himself be caught "being good" or "doing good" over and over, without embarrassment or apology.
Speaking of doing good, the things a good person does are not necessarily good as far as popular opinion goes. He refers to the highest standard for his rules of conduct.
Jesus stated it this way, after someone called Him good, "Why callest thou Me good? there is none good but One, that is God; but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. [God's commandments]" (Matthew 19:16-17)
Was Jesus Christ saying that He wasn't good? Of course not. But He wanted people to see that He was not making up some new list of rules to suit His whim. He was doing as instructed by the Father God.
"Jesus answered them and said, "My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me. If anyone wills to do His will, He shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority. He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who seeks the glory of the One who sent Him is true, and no unrighteousness is in Him." (John 7:16-18)
This is where goodness ties into love, which is the fruit of the Spirit. Doing Good is what God is all about. Indeed, the entomology of the word "good" is the word God. Historically, the term in popular usage today, goodness, has been slightly changed over the centuries. Goodness was originally the term, "God-ness" meaning "all things of Godly character." Isn't that interesting? Goodness is such a trait of God that His Name became the word. This is because of another characteristic word that the Bible uses as if it describes Him fully (though we are mindful that one word could never do that). That word is love. God is love. Christ did good because He is the "fullness of the Godhead bodily" and He illustrated God's love in action. As we mimic Christ, we begin to do good, showing God's love to a lost and dying world. As we mimic Christ, we are using His standard, God's will, as revealed in His word. We are being led of the Spirit and producing the fruit of the Spirit, goodness.
"Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone that loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love." (1 John 4:7-8)
So how do you grade yourself in the "showing goodness" department? How do you display this facet of love? Do you live a life with standards that mimic Christ? or do you rationalize not being good because of a short term "reward?" Is it clear to you that good is good? or do you blur the lines between good and bad? If you know a good man, do you respect him? or do you find yourself thinking "good guys finish last" and "good just isn't practical in our world?" When the good girl predictably chooses to do good, do you find yourself questioning her judgment? If you ask yourself these questions, it will teach you much about yourself. If you follow God and mimic Christ, the Spirit will produce goodness in you.
Maybe you are one of those particular souls that do not think of themselves as good but are sure they're not bad. You may use a standard where you compare yourself to others in order to measure yourself. "I never have murdered or hurt anyone. I try to do nice things for others and think of others when I can. I think others can see things that is good in me." I want to say, that is probably true, for it is true of so many people. Generally, people are not hurting people in criminal ways or trying to be cruel. Generally, people try to be decent to others around them not stirring up trouble. But I'm afraid that God's standards for an eternity with Him are higher than what most people do. For there still lurks in the hearts of every man, sin that will separate him or her from a holy God. This was something that God knew would happen so He sent His son Jesus to die to pay for that sin. Doing "the best we can," is just not enough, we must have our sin wiped off of our account. Jesus allowed Himself to take the punishment that we deserve upon Himself so that we don't have to go before God with our sins and try to show Him that we tried our best. We will not pass the gates with just our best. The good news is that God is waiting to hear you say you need Him to be your Savior and He is desperate to do this thing for you. All you need to do is come to the place where you realize you need Him, recognize who He is, what He's done and ask Him into your life. Pray this:
Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner and my good is not good enough. I need You because I cannot save myself. Lord, I know that you are God in human flesh that came to earth to die for me. I know that You allowed yourself to be killed on a cross made of wood and buried in a grave of stone. I know that you came to life again on the third day and I believe it. Lord please forgive me of my sin and save me. I promise to follow You all the days of my life. I pray this in Jesus' holy name. Amen.
Others in this series of independent articles: