Summary: We tend to lump people into categories of good people and bad people. What makes something or someone good?
We’re in a series about the Fruit of the Spirit. Fruit is the outward manifestation of the inner nature. When you see a banana hanging on a tree, you know it’s a banana tree. When you see these nine traits in someone’s personality, you know that they are a Jesus person. There’s one fruit, and it has nine flavors. You can’t pick and choose, and say, “I’ll take joy, but I’ll pass on patience.” It’s a package deal. In this message we’re going to examine the fruit of goodness. The Bible says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23)
We tend to lump people into categories of good people and bad people. I’m going to call out the names of some famous (and infamous) people. When I call their name, you say whether they are good or bad: Adolph Hitler? Ronald Reagan? Osama Ben Laden? Mother Teresa? Joseph Stalin? Coach Tom Landry? Bonnie and Clyde? Billy Graham? Chief Justice John Roberts? I thought that one would stump you. Goodness isn’t as clear-cut as we may think.
What makes something or someone good? The first time we see the word in the Bible is in the very first chapter of Genesis. As God was creating the universe, there were six times He created a portion of the universe and He saw that it was good.
But when God looked at Adam all alone in the Garden of Eden He said, “It is NOT good for man to be alone.” So He said, “Adam, have I got a deal for you! I’m going to give you a wife and she is going to be perfect. She will always look great, and every night she’ll massage your neck and cook delicious meals. She will never nag or complain. In other words, she’s going to be perfect.” Adam said, “That sounds good, but what is it going to cost me?” God said, “It’s going to cost you an arm and a leg.” Adam thought for a minute and said, “What can you give me for only a rib?” Of course, it didn’t happen that way. God put Adam asleep and took one of his ribs; he had a spare rib—and He made it into a prime rib—Eve. And when Adam saw her for the first time he said, “Whoa! Man!” So she was called woman. Seriously, after God created the male and the female the Bible says God saw that it was VERY good.
As we talk about goodness, I want to make three statements to help you understand the Spiritual fruit of goodness.
(1) I WANT TO BE GOOD!
It would be easy to pass this fruit over because the word good or goodness is rather weak in our vocabulary. We throw the word “good” around a lot. Here are some of the ways we use it: Good morning; Have a good day; good night; good job; good game; good luck; good luck with that; good move; good hair day; good to know; good to go; good looking; looking good; the good life; good clean fun; good idea; good to see you; it’s all good; feeling good; looks good to me; that’s not good; so far so good; it’s too good to be true; a good time was had by all; you good with that? I’m good with that; you good and ready? Is that milk still good? I feel good; for good measure; good riddance; it does my heart good; your guess is as good as mine; it’s for your own good; and if you got all that: good for you!
From the beginning of our lives our parents tell us to be good little boys and girls. When I was a teenager I went through a rebellious time, and I can recall my mother saying when I left to hang out with my buddies, “Now be good, and have fun.” At that time, I thought that being good and having fun were two totally opposite things!
Wanting to be good is a worthy goal. George Orwell wrote: “On the whole, human beings want to be good, but not too good, and not quite all of the time.” That quote reminds me of the mischievous little boy who prayed, “Dear God, make me good; but not too good. Just good enough that I don’t get a spanking.”
Definition: Goodness is doing the right thing for the right reason
Let’s start with a definition of goodness. I believe goodness is doing the right thing for the right reason. You can do the right thing, but if you’re not doing it for the right reason, that’s not goodness. For instance, Jesus warned against the Pharisees who gave their alms before men so they could be seen. They would blow a horn and make a show out of giving money to a beggar. The reason they did it was so their peers would see how “good” they were. That’s not goodness; it’s pure selfishness. Jesus said when you do your good deeds, don’t blow a horn. If you see a beggar, give them money out of a sense of compassion, NOT so your reputation will be enhanced.