Fruits of the Spirit: Goodness

by: Bill Bratt


The apostle Paul admonished true Christians to "walk in the Spirit" and if we do then we will "not fulfill the lust of the flesh" (Galatians 5:16.) So how do we walk in the Spirit? Paul continues in the next five verses in telling us what the "works of the flesh" are and then he answers the question of how do we walk in the Spirit when he says: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, {23} gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law" (Galatians 5:22-23.)

Let’s take a look at ‘goodness’ which is the sixth in the list of the fruits of the Spirit.

The Greek word for ‘goodness’ in this verse is ‘agathosune,’ [ag-ath-soo'-nay;] from Strong’s Concordance G19; goodness, i.e. virtue or beneficence:--goodness."

Other definitions are: praiseworthy character, wholesome, pleasant, agreeable, upright and honorable.

Goodness describes a person possessing godlike qualities of virtue, uprightness and true character. Goodness is an action. It is God’s way of love in action. Goodness is to be expressed outwardly in acts of helping others.

God is Good

David was a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22) and he praised God for being good: "Praise the LORD! Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever" (Psalms 106:1.) David used the phrase "He is Good" four other times in the Psalms (Psalms 107:1, 118:1, 29, 136:1.)

In the New Testament James stated: "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning" (James 1:17.) We all have been blessed abundantly by God. We should be humble and grateful in giving God thanks for the miraculous blessings that we have: a beautiful and free country to live in, our good health, our food and clothing, our good jobs, and beautiful homes to live in, and all of the physical possessions that we have, and most important of all, His truth, the Bible, His one and only Son Jesus Christ who died for us. This sounds like we should count our blessings instead of sheep. We need to praise God for "He is good! For His mercy endures forever."

What does God’s goodness lead to? Paul gives us the answer: "do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?" (Romans 2:4.)

What is Good and What is Bad?

It is difficult for people to agree on what is good and what is bad (or evil.) Jeremiah the prophet recorded the following: "O LORD, I know the way of man is not in himself; It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps" (Jeremiah 10:23.) We need to look to God and see what He tells us about being good.

Let’s notice what Jesus said to the rich young ruler: "Now behold, one came and said to Him, "Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?" {17} So He said to him, "Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments." (Matthew 19:16-17.)

Notice how Jesus answered the rich young ruler’s question about what ‘good thing’ he should do to inherit eternal life. Jesus said to ‘keep the commandments’. Jesus amplified the keeping of the commandments from the physical to the spiritual level in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5). What better way of being good and doing good to our neighbors is there than keeping God’s commandments. We can do good by honoring our parents, not hating anyone, not shacking up with our neighbor’s wife, not stealing from or bearing false witness in court against our neighbor.

When Jesus was on the Mount of Olives He gave three important parables in Matthew 25. The first parable was about the ten virgins and how we must be prepared. The second parable was about the talents and how we must perform and take what we have and make it grow. The third parable is about ‘doing good works.’ Our ‘good works’ should begin in our families, then the brethren in the Church and then extend to our neighbors and community.

The purpose of God’s Ten Commandments is to show us what is good and bad. Let’s remember what the apostle Paul said: "Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good" (Romans 7:12.)

Doing Good

Goodness is to be expressed outwardly in acts of helping others. Let’s notice what the apostle Paul said: "Therefore we also pray always for you that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness and the work of faith with power, {12} that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Thessalonians 1:11-12.) The word ‘fulfill’ means to finish, complete or put into action.

Let’s look at what Paul told the brethren in Rome: "Now I myself am confident concerning you, my brethren, that you also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another" (Romans 15:14.) The brethren at Rome were full of goodness and expressing God’s love outwardly.

Paul had some very good friends who were loyal to him. Paul said: "Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, {4} who risked their own necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles" (Romans 16:3-4.) Priscilla and Aquila had risked their own lives to help Paul. This was love in action - this was goodness in action.

In conclusion: How can we apply this spiritual fruit of goodness? We can begin by applying the ‘Golden Rule’ of doing ‘good’ to others as you would have them do to you.

We need to go to God the Father in prayer and ask Him for the fruit of His Spirit: Goodness.