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June 25th, 2008 at 4:03 pm

The Fruit of Goodness

Dear Friends,

The Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness

Like a well pruned and carefully kept peach tree producing a large juicy peach that seems so perfect as you bite into it and try to keep the juice from dripping down your shirt, so the Holy Spirit, at work in the heart and the life of the Christian, produces the fruit of goodness.

The purpose of God in salvation is not so much to grant us an insurance policy for the day of judgment, but to make us new, to heal us, to enable us to become what we were always meant to be and to do what we were always meant to do. Being and doing are inseparable, and certainly so when we think of “goodness.”

Goodness is a state of being from which flows deeds which benefit and bless others. It has the double quality of a moral state (goodness as contrasted with badness) combined with the impulse to do good and bring good to others. I cannot say that I am good unless I also do good. And I can’t do good unless I am good.

God is good. God does good. His goodness is ever present over His creation and his creatures. We don’t have a list of qualities that we put up next to God and check off to determine whether He is good. Rather, we learn what is good by learning about Him and who He is and what He has done. That defines goodness. To say that “God is good” is almost like saying that God is God.

We will have other opportunities to look at the details in the meaning of “good” and “goodness.” For now, I want to address this goodness in terms of our life aspirations.

We want so many things out of life, so much so that we let ourselves come under the grip of jealously, anxiety, envy, malice and all sorts of things that are not “good” as we work and reach for what we want. These traits are corrupting, and they issue forth in works that do not seek the good of the other person.

But when our aspirations for ourselves become consistent with God’s aspirations for us, we find the opportunity to be good and to do good around every corner. Every conversation, every prayer, every meditation, every action, every moment provides opportunity to be and to do “good” if we would but see.

There is really nothing greater that we can aspire to in life than that we should be good and to do good. God cares more that we be good and that we do good than that we be rich or famous or healthy or happy.

We look around and see so much that is twisted, so much sorrow that comes forth from people aspiring to this or that and then setting that aspiration before the good of others or the goodness of their own hearts.

The world cries out for the fruit of goodness. There is precious little of it. Our hearts should long for the fruit of goodness. The Spirit wishes to create this quality in us, and desires our cooperation.

But we realize that only God is good, and if we would be good we must be close to Him. In Himself God is goodness defined. But true goodness exists to share in its bounty with others. So God, who is good, created the world, which He called “good,” that in His love He might share of the bounty of His goodness with his creatures. And even when rebuffed and rebelled against, God who is good is still good to His creatures, and still seeks despite all right not to the good of His creatures, especially the good of man made in His image, man who tossed aside His goodness for another fruit. And nowhere is His bountiful goodness more evident than in the giving of His only Son for the sake of others. Jesus is God incarnate, God’s goodness incarnate, and God’s goodness given, as He gives in his goodness even his own life for the good of others.

The fight against the flesh is a fight against forces that would undermine the path to goodness. Yes, John Mayer, there is a downward force that feels as strong and inevitable as gravity, and it is working against us, and working against goodness. It seems stronger than us, and we feel helpless against it. It is not so easy to be good and to do good.

Thanks be to God that He is intent on making us what we would not otherwise be, creating in us that quality of “goodness,” that quality of “godness” that is really us becoming again what we were first made to be. By His strength I can hope to be a good man, and to do good to others.

That is what I want, though some days it seems far from me. I rest in knowing that the Fruit of the Spirit is goodness.

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