I want to share a prayer with you that I say every morning for my family. I think it is a prayer that we should share for all people.
Lord, may we be men and women of God, men and women of integrity, may we know you as Lord and Savior and live accordingly. Lord bind up Satan, boot him out of our lives and fill the void with more of your Spirit.
I pray this for everyone. For all people, races, social-economic class, age, location and political choice. That God’s Peace would prevail.
For the last few days we have been looking at the FRUIT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. We have been focusing on Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Paul describes the fruit of the Spirit in nine terms. I have been looking at each of these characteristics one per day. So far, we have looked at LOVE, JOY, PEACE, PATIENCE, KINDNESS.
Now today we will look at GOODNESS.
We all like to look good and feel good! We try to be good! We love things that taste good! We want good weather and a good report card!
I bet when you were young, your parents told you to “have fun but be good!” To a kid, (and maybe still for you today) that may seem like a contradiction.
The dictionary defines goodness as the quality of being morally good or virtuous.
The Bible uses the word differently. God uses the word good and goodness 619 times…I guess God thinks it’s an important word, virtue, and FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT.
Biblically in Greek, the word goodness, “agathosune,” means “an uprightness of heart and life”. In addition, Jesus is called the “good shepherd” in Scripture, because He laid down His life for His sheep. We are called as Christians to live in a way that reflects the character of Christ.
I saw a devotion that went like this:
Once, during the hours of a quiet, starlit night, above the hills of Bethlehem, from a strange voice there came an announcement this world will never forget. To a few shepherds then – and to all the world eventually – that voice said, “Behold! I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be to all people …”. We cannot be sure what language that messenger spoke – perhaps Hebrew, maybe Aramaic, or possibly some language never named and not understood except by a few. But the message heard that night has been translated into almost every language spoken on this planet. When the message reached primitive England, there it encountered an old Anglo-Saxon word, “godspell,” which meant “good news” and thus the message became the “gospel” and so it has remained ever since. “I bring you good news!” From whatever source, these are welcome words to most people most of the time. But this particular piece of news is especially good because it is good for all people in all times. For almost 2,000 years it has occupied an uppermost place in human thought.
We sin. That’s bad news!
God loves us and sent Jesus to die in our place, that’s good news!
In response to this life giving gift we are to make good, God pleasing choices! We also know that when we get our roots planted in God’s Word fruit will grow Fruit of goodness!
And yet that is not as easy as it seems:
Gal 6:9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
So why would we be weary doing good?
First of all, it’s against our sinful nature! Sin is self-centeredness by definition. It only thinks of what’s best for ME! Left to our sinful nature we think bad things, desire bad things, are attracted to bad things and choose bad things. And yet God calls us to goodness.
Second, Satan wants you to get weary trying to be good. He will tempt you to give up to say “let someone else do it!”, to make not so good (bad) choices instead.
The danger is always present that we will judge before all the facts are known to us. A few years ago “good news, bad news” stories were going around. A man meets a friend and says, I won a thousand dollars in a contest.” The friend replies, “That’s good.” “No, I spent it on a skiing trip to Switzerland and broke a leg.” “That’s bad.” “No, while I was in the hospital I fell in love with an attractive nurse and married her.” “That’s good.” “No, it turned out that she didn’t like the United States and insisted that we had to live in Europe.” “That’s bad.” “No, we set up a home in Paris and I got a job with an export firm.” “That’s good.” “No, the firm went bankrupt and we were soon reduced to poverty.” “That’s bad.” “No, under those difficult circumstances I examined my goals and values and discovered that I was living for the wrong reasons.” “That’s good.” The dialogue goes on and what we discover is that the good and the bad grow side by side. Our judgment at a certain moment often does not take into consideration all the facts.
So how do we know what is good?
Simple we test it with God’s word.
Philippians 4:8-9…Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
I like the Good News translation of that verse:
In conclusion, my friends, fill your minds with those things that are good and that deserve praise: things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and honorable. Put into practice what you learned and received from me, both from my words and from my actions. And the God who gives us peace will be with you.
Henry Thoreau said, “Be not merely good; be good for something.” That was Jesus’ challenge to the man who wanted to know what he could do to inherit eternal life. He had been good at making money, in being morally upright and keeping the commandments; but that is not the ultimate good: he must also give of himself and what he has in behalf of others. He needed to also realize that, “The gift without the giver is bare.”
I think a great way to live is by this motto:
Do all the good you can, By all the means you can, In all the ways you can, At all the times you can, As long as ever you can.
Someone else has expressed the ideal of goodness in a wonderful way, saying, “I expect to pass through this world but once; any good thing therefore, that I can do, or any goodness that I can show to my fellow creatures, let me do it now; let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.”
Goodness…a FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT is a characteristic of a Christian, it’s a way to live, think, and be. The more time we spend with God in prayer and in His Word the more goodness others will see in us!
So, now what?
- Go back over the 2 translations of Philippians 4 above. Read them slowly. Think about each word. Are there character weaknesses in your life that would conflict with any of them?
- Spend time in God’s Word and prayer…Ask the Holy Spirit to produce goodness in your thoughts, words, actions.
- Ask for God to reveal who could be the recipient of that goodness?