Goodness is one fruit of the Spirit that is proactive in nature. Simply said, it is holiness demonstrated. This virtue reflects the righteousness and generosity of God. The Greek word used in Galatians 5:22 for goodness is agathosune, which means “the uprightness of heart and life.” This tells us that goodness is not merely an issue of deeds but also of goodness of the heart and one’s lifestyle. You’ve probably heard some people say, “What is good for you may not be good for me, and what may be good for me may not be good for you.” But the standard for goodness is not to be dictated by man’s opinion, for man’s idea of goodness is like shifting sands—it never is fixed. In fact, we follow the opposites of this fruit of the Spirit, which are the obvious acts of the flesh: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins such as these (Galatians 5:19-21). Man, by nature, is sinful, and every inclination of the thoughts of his heart is evil (Genesis 6:5 and Galatians 5:17). If we are to follow man’s standard of goodness, that would only bring chaos and the judgment of God upon us.
When a certain rich man asked Jesus about the requirement for inheriting eternal life and the man referred to Him as “Good Teacher,” Jesus told him that only God is good (Mark 10:17-18). In this scenario, Jesus is teaching us that God is the only One Who is truly good, and a life of surrender and dependence upon Him produces the character of true goodness. It is not that we are saying that man cannot demonstrate goodness, but that man is very much prone to choose badness rather than goodness due to his sinful nature. Even Paul admitted that there is nothing good living in him because of the sinful nature that struggles within, and it makes doing what’s right a very hard choice (Romans 7:14-25).
This daily internal battle between good and evil is like housing two opposing creatures within. We have a choice of which to feed and which to starve. Sadly, we often choose to feed our sinful nature and starve our goodness. That is why we end up with a malnourished view of goodness and an ever-growing appetite for sinful things. But we don’t have to live that way anymore. The flesh shouldn’t be allowed to triumph for the rest of our lives. We are able to win against the sinful flesh by living a life of submission to the lordship of Christ (Romans 7:25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.) and by walking in step with the Spirit (Galatians 5:24-25 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.). When we aim to please God, we can overcome the tug of our sinful nature. Since the flesh is naturally selfish, goodness that comes from God allows us to be selfless. Goodness according to God, significantly has to do with righteousness and truth (Ephesians 5:8-9). Being good means we are living in diligent conformity to God’s righteousness and standing steadfastly in His truth. You see, true goodness is not just about being good to others but, most importantly, to God. Goodness can only be complete if done not for the purpose of a good reputation but to maintain a lifestyle and a heart that seeks to love God above all and love others too.
Goodness is the essential nature of God. His goodness is experienced through His abundant generosity, mercy, and grace toward mankind. He does not withhold good things from those who follow Him (Psalm 84:11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.), and He demonstrates goodness and compassion to all (Psalm 145:9). The greatest expression of His goodness was the ultimate sacrifice of Christ on the cross—for man’s undeserved salvation and reconciliation with God despite man’s persistent rebellion.
For all who want to taste and see God’s goodness, He invites everyone to find refuge in Him (Psalm 34:8). As we abide in Christ, we abide in His goodness and bear much fruit. Apart from Him, we can’t do anything that’s good. But if we live in total dependence on the guidance of the Holy Spirit, gradually but surely, we bear the fruit of the Spirit, goodness.
“And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work…”
(2 Corinthians 9:8 KJV)