The Fruit of the Spirit Is…Goodness

By Nick McElvain

We sing about God’s goodness. In our prayers we talk about God’s goodness.

Webster has over three dozen variations on the use of good as a noun, an adjective, and an adverb. Let’s look at how God develops the concept of goodness in the Scriptures.

Going back to the beginning, God created man to fellowship with Himself, and to bring Him glory. Each day of creation, God calls His creation work “good.” God gave Adam every opportunity to enjoy the goodness of His creation, but Adam failed. He couldn’t resist the temptation to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, even though God told him there would be consequences.

From that moment on, mankind has chosen evil. He continually chooses self over God. Man never chooses good. We would know nothing of goodness if God had not demonstrated it to us.

The evil in the world grew to the point where God dealt with it by serving out the consequences to all mankind with a worldwide flood. Everyone except Noah and his family suffered the consequences of their sin.

Then God chose the nation of Israel, and He chose to further reveal Himself to them. Throughout the Old Testament, God demonstrated His goodness to His people in His dealings with them. In chapter 18 of Exodus, we find Jethro rejoicing over the goodness of the Lord, for His delivering them from the hand of the Egyptians.

In Exodus 33:18-19, we find Moses asking of God “‘I pray You, show me Your glory!’ And He said, ‘I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the Lord before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion.’” God’s graciousness, His compassion, His deliverance of His people are all demonstrations of His goodness.

We find more than a dozen of the Psalms proclaiming the Lord’s goodness. For example, Psalm 23:6 says, “Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Psalm 31:19 says, “How great is Your goodness, which You have stored up for those who fear You.”

The Psalmist calls on God’s people to “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, For His lovingkindness is everlasting” (Psalm 106:1).

Man, once he has tasted the goodness of the Lord, once he has been shown the Lord’s lovingkindness, once he has seen His righteousness, is called on to bless, praise, and extol the name of the Lord.

Jesus’ teaching summarizes this concept in Mathew 7:9-12. “Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him! In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”

As New Testament believers, God has given us his Spirit. One of the fruits expected in the life of the believer is goodness. We are only capable of any good in our lives based on the inward changes caused by the indwelling Holy Spirit. Our repentance that leads to a change of heart leading to salvation, also leads to a change of heart about our self-centeredness.

In Romans 8:28, we have a promise from God, where he proclaims, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” The same God who faithfully loved and cared for the rebellious nation of Israel promises that He will cause all things to work together for our good – not just the things that seem good to us at the moment.

With a promise like that, our lives should reflect Him in all our dealings with others. His trademark “goodness” should be stamped on our lives. Our goodness, in turn, will bring Him glory; the glory for which He created us to enjoy in the first place.