The fruit of goodness
Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life? So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. (Mark 10:17, 18)
The goodness of Jesus revealed the goodness of God to people. Jesus came to earth to do the goodwill of the Father. Therefore, His life, death and resurrection present a perfect picture of divine goodness, an example for every Christian.
If we want to follow His steps, we will want to study this fruit very carefully and with much interest.
The false fruit of goodness
We must not equate goodness to the self-righteous acts of the so-called workers of good deeds. This refers to people who do good to others so that they can receive praise and thanks of man.
Goodness does not mean that we give something so that we can get a greater reward in return. Such an attitude is selfishness, and works merely toward our own purposes.
Goodness certainly is not a way of deserving our salvation. Our good works will never reach the height of the holy pattern of the goodness of God. They will never be able to take the place of the redemptive work of Christ on the cross. God has saved us only by His goodness and mercy in our favor.
The true fruit of goodness
The Greek word translated “goodness” is agathosune. It appears only four times in the New Testament. The word “good”, agathos, appears about 102 times. It is a generic term used to express excellence or high quality.
Personal goodness according to the way that the Scriptures use the word has two important parts. One part is “character”; the other is “conduct” and describes what we are and what we do, or in other words; our attitudes and our actions.
As we have already stated, Jesus is the true pattern for a life of goodness. He is the “good and faithful” model of a servant (Matthew 25:24; Philippians 2:7). Jesus is the goodness of God in thought, word, attitude and action. The study of His life implies a search for the meaning of goodness.
It is useful to understand the way that the Bible uses the words agathosune and agathos. “Good and faithful” is one example of this.
Paul said to the Ephesians “the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth” (Ephesians 5:9). In these and many other passages, we can better understand the concept of God concerning goodness. As we have already seen, goodness involves character as well as conduct. Concerning character, a “good” man is a strong man, solid, highly just and moral. He is honest, sincere and entirely correct. At the same time, he is merciful and full of compassion. He seeks the best of others, has a more generous heart and gives from his own heart. Truly, he is a man like Jesus that not only seeks to preach the “good news”, but also lives according to it:
How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. (Acts 10:38)
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)
Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. (Titus 2:14)
The rotten fruit of the flesh
The opposite of good is bad, and the opposite of goodness is evil. The Bible has much to say about evil and evil men. The most evil character described in the Scriptures is Satan, who is the very embodiment of evil.
Because of the fact that the devil is evil, he is always seeking to rob, kill and destroy (John 10:10). Jesus came however to destroy the works of the devil and to give us an abundant life (1 John 3:8).
The Bible generally associates evil with men who are greedy and jealous by nature. They have small and stingy hearts and are more interested in getting things than in giving something.
The evil man is also partial, unjust and immoral. By the nature of his character, he is not interested in the well-being of others. He is not willing to abstain from robbing and destroying others in favor of his own selfish purposes.
Truly, the picture that the Bible paints concerning evil is not something beautiful to see. Unfortunately, even as a characteristic of Christians, sometimes we see similarities of these characteristics beginning to grow in our lives, and these weeds grow rapidly if not impeded. Bad attitudes can develop into bad words and actions before we know what is happening. Thank God that the Holy Spirit is quick to advise us when these evil characteristics begin to appear in our thoughts and reflect in our actions.
There is great power in the goodness of God. This fruit of the Spirit is God’s answer to the problem of evil in our lives and the lives of others. Goodness is a quality of the life of Christ inside of our hearts. It provides the resources that we can use at any time, whether we are feeling good or not.
Goodness is not a feeling it is a person. This person is Jesus! By faith, we know that His spirit is within us. Contained in his spirit is his goodness and power to do good. This confession of faith is the key to our victory.
To conclude these brief considerations about the fruit of goodness consider the following good words of the apostle Paul:
Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:9; 17; 21)