Summary: Kindness is seen in our actions, goodness is seen in our character.

Show Vietnam video. What an amazing example of how goodness and love can overcome trauma of the past, hatred, language & cultural barriers, and bring forgiveness and immediate closeness between two people a world apart.

Today’s fruit is the Apple to represent goodness. After all it’s the goodness found in the apple that keeps the doctor away right?

In both New and the Old Testament, the word “goodness” is often used for beauty.

“Good” in the New Testament is usually the word that means virtuous or valuable.

Also “perfect” in the sense that everything about something is “right”, we say often with spitefulness sometimes, “that person is so perfect (in other words we can’t find any wrong in them)”, or that person is perfect for her” (the person is right for her, a good match).

Last week we covered kindness which is about our actions of love toward others, but goodness, though related to kindness is much bigger, as we will see today. I would like to present you with several aspects of goodness as a fruit of the Spirit today, beginning with:

I. Goodness as a Character Trait

This is where the apple really comes in. When you look at the apple you may consider it to be beautiful I suppose, but the inherent goodness in it is not visible. You only receive its goodness by eating it. Peter says in 1Pet 2:3, “You have tasted that the Lord is good”. Goodness is a noticeable purity in a person where you can sense that they are just “good”. Purity might actually be a good word for this trait, pure honesty, cleanness, pure speech and so on.

The character or essence of the apple is what makes it good, and goodness is the primary characteristic of God. “I am the good shepherd” Jesus says in John 10:11. Matthew 19:17, “Why do you ask me what is good (right), there is only one who is good (right, perfect)”. It is God’s goodness that allows Him to be loving, gracious, merciful, just, holy, and as a fruit of the Spirit offered to us, it is the power for us to become these things as well.

God must transform our character before we can be good as we read in Romans 12:2, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Also, it’s possible to do good without being good (Ill. “Teenage Devil disrupts church service) It is possible to do good without being good.

II. Goodness is also Perfection

Jesus says be perfect as God is perfect (Mt 5:48). This statement is in the context of loving your enemies and those who don’t love you. In other words, do no wrong and love everyone regardless of how they treat you because that is what God does. God knows we can’t be perfect, but in this context he knows we can be loving to those the world would say we should hate. That is goodness, perfection, God’s will.

In John 8:29 Jesus says “I always do the things that are pleasing to the Father.” There is no compromise in goodness. It is not good sometimes, because then it’s not part of someone’s nature, and its not perfect. To be a character trait, goodness must be present all the time, not just when we feel like it, or when it’s safe to do what’s right.

What does it mean in Romans 8:28 that “God makes all things work together for good”? It means that God’s plan is perfect and that he uses everything, good and bad for the purposes of good. Because there is nothing in him that is not good, and He is in sovereign control of the universe, everything that happens will be used for good.

We read in Phil 1:6 “He who began a good work in you.” The work has begun, we can strive to be perfect or full of goodness, but the perfection will not come until we are with him.

III. Goodness is Beautiful

Physical beauty can be deceiving and seductive. There are obvious evils in our world that repulse us and are easy to hate, holding little temptation for us. But the most dangerous evils are those that are not so obvious and may appear good on the surface. It’s very easy to be attracted to that which is wrong but respectable to our society, and to admire that which is evil but acceptable.

For goodness to triumph in our lives we must learn to identify attractive evil and discipline ourselves to hate it even though it seems so beautiful. Clinging to good is like hanging on to a rope when you’re tired; it’s working conscientiously when your bored, sticking with your marriage when it’s disappointing, being committed in your church when it’s not satisfying you.

You hold on through disappointment, persevere in discouragement, and press on through disillusionment. We do this because it’s God’s will, whether it’s the missionary seeing few results, the parent with a handicapped child, or a worker with a nasty boss, we choose to do what is right and good. This kind of good is not necessarily the absence of pain and presence of pleasure, but it’s worth clinging to because it is what God wants.

There’s the usual definition of beauty, but did you know one of the definitions of the Greek word beautiful is “coming at the right time”? So again we see that the definition of goodness has to do with what is right or timely. Doesn’t that fit with Jesus coming into the world?

We read in Psalm 50:2 “From Zion, perfect in beauty, God shines forth.” When we say, “what a beautiful person” and we’re not just talking about their appearance, what do we mean? How would we define a person that is full of goodness and beauty?

- not hurtful

- friendly

- calm

- makes you feel safe and accepted

- does the right thing when given the choice

You can probably think of others.

Goodness and beauty are the opposite of evil as we see throughout Luke 6. Remember evil is basically worthless or harmful. Another Greek word used for evil means flawed, or not perfect, not beautiful.

Going back to Romans 12 we are told to hate what is evil and cling to what is good, and overcome evil with good. Both David and Paul struggled with this conflict between goodness and evil as I’m sure we all do. Because goodness is not our nature, thus needing to be a fruit of the Spirit, there is always an internal struggle that must be overcome as Paul states in Romans 7:18-24:

“For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me (his sinful nature).

21So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23but I see in the members of my body another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?

Thankfully, he concludes that Jesus does. Paul is acknowledging that there is a Spirit of goodness within us through the Holy Spirit, but that it is always at war with the sinful nature that we were born with.

IV. Goodness is Righteousness

There’s doing the right thing, and there’s doing the right thing for the right reasons. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for their righteousness because they were doing it to get their own glory. He said they were clean on the outside but rotten on the inside, their heart, or character, their motives were wrong. We are not to boast about our righteous works. He doesn’t mean we shouldn’t strive for righteousness, as some people interpret this, but we must look at our motives.

So if righteousness is doing the right thing for the right reason, then it is the opposite of sin. James in chapter 1:19-22 says we should “be slow to anger because our anger does not produce the righteousness of God (the fruit), so we are to put away all filthiness, and rampant wickedness, and receive the word which can save our souls. But don’t just hear it, do it, or we are deceiving ourselves.” ... Goodness cannot coexist with sin, and anger is especially bad.

1 Peter says in chapter 2 verse 24 that “Jesus himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” Or you could say, by his wounds you were made good.

We believe heaven is good and perfect right, well Peter also says in 2 Peter 3:13, “But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” There’s a double meaning there, that actual righteousness will be present, all will do what is right, and that God himself will in his righteous perfection dwell there.

Finally John says in 1 John 3:9-10, “No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. 10By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.”

Practicing righteousness, goodness and loving each other, not sinning, is what distinguishes us as children of God. Let’s not take this statement lightly. John was the closest to Jesus and he makes it clear that no one who is born again makes a practice of sinning. Does that not mean that if you continue to sin you are not born again?

But it says who make a practice of sinning, not that if you sin once in a while, but repetitive sinning without repentance, or purposeful sin. We should therefore also practice righteousness, which means repetitively do good things even if we are not yet good at it. It’s always easier when stopping a behaviour, to replace it with another better behaviour. So practice goodness and righteousness.

V. Goodness is also Sacrificial

This aspect of Goodness is obviously related to kindness like we talked about last week.

Jesus says in John 10:11, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep”. Good here equals laying down one’s life for others.

We see this theme again in Titus chapter 3, “Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work...” submission and obedience require sacrifice. “But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Saviour appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.”

Again many will see an apparent contradiction here. Be obedient and ready for every good work, then it says we are not saved because of our works. But if you look closely there is no contradiction. The first part never says you are saved by obedience and good works, but it says according to his mercy and by the regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit. The motivation to do good is God’s mercy and our gratitude, the means is the Holy Spirit.

We sacrifice because God sacrificed for us and He calls us to be like Him, and we carry out good works because the Spirit has given us the ability, the fruit to make it possible.

So we see here that:

VI. Our Goodness does not Save Us

So many lost people believe that if they are good people everything is OK. I thought that. “Why would God send me to hell, I’ve been a good person all my life.” That’s not what Scripture says though.

Back to the passage from Titus 3, “He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of the Holy Spirit, 6whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”

But here’s the real kicker from Ephesians 2:8-10, For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

(and here’s a very important part) For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand (our works have already been prepared, or maybe better, we have been prepared for them), so that we should walk in them.” The word for walk in the New Testament means to live in such a way. We should live our lives in these good works.

We are saved by faith (which means trust and obedience), it is a gift of God that needs to be claimed, he did it because of his grace (which is unmerited forgiveness), so that we can carry out our created purpose to live in goodness.


VII. Goodness is Pleasing to God

We read earlier that Jesus always did what was pleasing to the Father. What does Genesis say about God’s creation? God said it was all good, meaning it fully pleased Him, the same thing he said when Jesus was baptized, that I am well pleased with my son.

Really this needs to be the only reason we strive for goodness, because it pleases God and is His will. We have the capacity for good though our nature has been tarnished by sin. 1Timothy 4:4 tells us that everything God created is good, at least has the potential for good.

In the first chapter of Colossians Paul says they have been praying for the people of the Colossian church “so that they will walk (live) in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.”

Once again, we were created to please God, that is what he calls good. Everything we do that does not please God is called sin, and it is evil. There is only good and evil according to God, and the only criteria is what he thinks, whether it pleases him or not, whether it is His will or not. God has no gray areas when it comes to this, we have created those.

So here we have a very simple principle to apply to our lives. Is what I am doing or about to do pleasing to God according to what I know about His nature and will? If you’re not sure, dig into the Bible more, and if you can’t find out there, err on the side of what He might think, not what you or the world would think.

If we are truly saved, the Holy Spirit lives in us giving us the capacity to love goodness and do good works. God says we should practice doing good, so here is my challenge to you this week, I’m calling it the weekly action step that will be in your bulletin each week from now on.

I would like us to think about one difficult or unpleasant thing in your life that God has used for good according to Romans 8:28. And how can you use that experience to intentionally do something good and pleasing to God this week?

I urge you to take these action steps seriously, and I would love to get us in the habit of sharing testimonies about these on a regular basis. So keep your bulletin in a visible place so you can be reminded of these activities during the week.