But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control. Galatians 5:22,23
In continuing on in The Fruit series, I have to admit I have a strong desire just to know how you are doing. How, as you receive these messages, are you being impacted and changed by what Christ is speaking to you? I’ll tell you something: I have never dug into a subject this in depth before. I’ve glossed over Galatians 5:22,23 many times and can (almost) rattle off the list without looking. But I’ve never truly taken it to heart and thought through how impactful a study on the fruit of the Spirit can be. And to be honest, it’s rocking my world.
A lot for me lately has just been about finding the character of Christ and wanting to reflect Him more. I’m tired of me. I’m tired of my own way. If you’ve read some blogs this year (i.e. The Gospel of Me, Living Generously 1, Living Generously 2 and this entire series), you’re probably sensing a theme like that anyway! It’s not meant to be self-deprecating or a beat down of my spirit. Rather, it’s to fully embrace Christ and see Him as Lord of my life. Much of what I’ve been seeking is more “law-based” and less “grace-based” and I’m finding I need His grace daily. And I need to extend His grace as well.
OK, a bit of an aside but I wanted to say all of that in full disclosure. This stuff is hard guys. But it is so worth it! The journey, the pain, the pleasure, the highs and lows….it’s ALL WORTH IT! And I think we see in Galatians 5:22,23 some pretty clear benchmarks of who we’re needing to be. And in modeling the fruit, we really come to a place where the Spirit is sustaining us and filling us on a regular basis; continually really. So it is with that backdrop we go in further today talking about goodness. Christ is our chief model and aim. He is good. We are not; but that’s ok. More on that to come. Let’s go!
1. Christ is the only one who is truly virtuous
All have turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one. Psalm 14:3
Last week, I made mention of that fact that in and of ourselves we really do not display any of these fruits or characteristics rightly. The world can have a degree of goodness, but I don’t believe it is rooted in anything that makes it stand. What truly is good? Similar to Pilate’s question, “What is truth?,” (John 18:38), we can ask “What is good?” If it is not of Christ, it really has no benchmark, no standard, and no reliable source of measurement. As an example, those who were friends with Hitler perhaps thought he was a good guy, but the rest of the world would struggle to find any good in him. It seems goodness can be a relative term without some context surrounding it.
So Jesus is the model of what goodness is. Goodness comes out of a sense of virtue. In the Greek, the word is agathosune, which is defined as "uprightness of heart and life." Jesus displays this uprightness but it is not a goodness just for goodness sake (bad joke inserted here). It is a goodness motivated to bless and aid others. Virtue motivates goodness and there is significant overlap. But Jesus is the only one truly virtuous and therein, the only one who is truly good.
2. Christ’s ultimate act of goodness was displayed at the cross
Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:7-8
Having established some foundation for what goodness is, we see that Christ’s ministry was motivated entirely out of His goodness up to and extending past the cross. If any point in human history has shown the goodness of God extending to man, it is in the crucifixion. We do not call it Good Friday for nothing: it was the death of Christ which was for our good. The act itself was good. And the fully God, fully man Who displayed it was and is good.
Here’s a mind-bender if you care to consider it: would God and would Jesus still be good apart from the cross? It’s hard to conceive but track with me. God is 100% good but also 100% righteous and just. He creates man. Man sins and is cast out of the garden. The rest of human history is man’s attempt to be god but his failure time and time again. God allows His Son to go the cross to redeem us. His goodness sets up a cascade of events that I believe necessarily must occur in order to bring us back to Him. Did He have to do it? I believe His nature didn’t allow any other way. His character compelled Him to be good to us beyond anything we could deserve. To not go to the cross would be to deny His character. He is a good God through and through. Jesus had to go to the cross.
3. The Holy Spirit living in us produces the fruit of goodness
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
So back to this idea of Jesus being good and virtuous: how do any of us ever measure up? Well honestly, we can’t. There is a struggle between working toward a fruit which seems unattainable and the need for us to possess it. Yes none of us are truly good. But that is one-half of the story. We are not good apart from Christ. Remember, “apart from me you can do nothing”? (John 15:5) It is a reminder that outside of Christ, all our efforts are in vain. All our good deeds are really only filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6) and if we think we are saved by works and deeds, we must think again.
The goodness we display comes as an outpouring of the work Jesus has done inside of us. With His Spirit inside of us, we want to be good and do good things. We’re not doing it for the sake of chalking up points; it just becomes our character and nature. It becomes who we are because of Who He is. In so doing, His goodness is translated and transferred to us. That is Good News!
As we end these blogs in The Fruit series each week, I hope you feel less burdened down and more uplifted to fully live the life God has for you in Christ. A real sense of peace accompanies the fact that it is not my righteousness, but His alone in which I stand. I’m called out to serve and through the power of the Spirit living within, I am able to display not only this fruit but the rest of the other 8 which Paul outlines. We know our adversary loves to twist Scripture around. I believe the biggest lie Satan would have is to say, “You must earn your salvation. God’s not happy with you unless you clean up your act and start being good.” In that defeatist mindset, we find no hope and only despair.
But in Christ we are overcomers! Because Christ overcame, we too can overcome. 1 John 5:5 states: Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. This is the hope we have in Christ. We know He is good and His goodness extends to us on a daily basis. We have the opportunity today to extend that goodness to those around us.
I love walking the journey with you guys!
Catch up on all the previous blogs from THE FRUIT series: