Summary: The 6th sermon in a series on the fruits of the Spirit. A sermon on goodness.
1. Last week we talked about "kindness." This week we look at another fruit of the Spirit that on the surface doesn’t seem all that spiritual, "goodness."
2. We joke about being good with one another. We say things like, "Some people you have to pay to be good while others are just. . . good for nothing."
3. Sometimes we use the word "good," to mean something is actually bad. We say, "Oh yeah, that was really good."
4. There is a lot of confusion about the word and it begins early. A child thinks it’s better to have a bright shiny quarter than it is to have a dollar bill. A kid would rather have an ice cream bar than a $100 bill. So how do we determine what’s really good?
5. What’s good for one person might not be good for another person at all, let me illustrate. You’ve heard the expression, "One man’s junk is another man’s treasure." It’s true. You might not think my good stuff is good at all.
6. When I went to India on the mission trip earlier this year I experienced food that the people there thought was really good and I didn’t think was good. Now, for the most part, I enjoyed the food, but they served a yogurt type food with something like cottage cheese in it. They thought it was really good and I thought it was. . . well, let’s just say I only ate it one time.
7. As much confusion about what’s good and what’s not good, we can easily tell the difference between good and bad in some situations. Let me illustrate by sharing a list of names. You and I have an immediate opinion about whether each of these people was good or bad.
Osama Bin Laden
8. Perhaps the words of Edwin Chapin will help us prepare for the thinking I want us to do this morning. He said,
"Goodness consists not in the outward things we do, but in the inward thing we are." Edwin Hubbel Chapin, (1814–1880)
9. Does that really capture what Paul’s talking about when he speaks of the fruit of the Spirit? It does, at least partially, but not completely. As we have done in each sermon in this series let’s read Galatians 5:22-23. The fruit of the Spirit has nine different expressions. This morning we discover the sixth fruit of the Spirit.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (NAS 95)
Prayer- - -
10. There is a lot of confusion about goodness so let’s begin with the question of. . .
I. What Is Goodness?
1. This is sort of what we talked about in the introduction to the sermon, but it’s also very different, because here I’m not interested in our definition of "good," or "goodness," but God’s definition. There is often a radical difference in the way God sees things & the way we see things.
2. God doesn’t merely do things that are good, He is good. He is very different than we are. Even at our best we fall far short of His perfection, but that doesn’t mean His perfection is lost on us. Remember, the fruit of the Spirit is a list of nine characteristics that are to be a part of each Christian’s daily life. We aren’t the source of these fruits, God’s Spirit living in us is to produce them in our lives.
3. I’m sort of getting ahead of myself though. Let’s slow down and take a little bit of time to look at the meaning and background of the word "goodness" in this passage on the fruit of the Spirit. Understanding what goodness is all about is a bit of a challenge for several reasons.
1) First, the Greek word used here for "goodness" is found only in scripture. Even in scripture it’s only used four times. When a word is not very familiar to us, we often misunderstand what it’s all about. That is the case with this word. There is some confusion about exactly what it means.
2) In contrast, the word "goodness" is based upon the root word, "good." This word used over 500 times in the New Testament. However, because it’s used so often, it’s meaning too is a bit unclear. It’s used in such a wide variety of ways that it can mean many different things. As I mentioned earlier consider the different ways we use the word good. It can describe a good book, or a good meal. It can be used sarcastically of something that isn’t good at all. It can mean the quality of something is top notch, or it can serve as a contrast between something which is excellent and something which is merely good.