“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”
-Galatians 5:22-23 (ESV)
You are to be holy to me because I, the Lord, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be my own. -Leviticus 20:26
Discussing goodness can be a tricky topic to tackle. Everyone has different ideas of what it means to be “good,” and oftentimes much emphasis is placed on goodness rather than grace when it comes to eternal life. So many confuse good works and grace, but the Bible is clear… Goodness is not the way to a relationship with Christ, but rather a product of a relationship with Christ.
Goodness is a requirement of God’s people, not because we can ever achieve perfection, but because as followers of Christ we are to crave holiness, and goodness produces holiness. There is a direct connection between obedience and righteousness, and just as we long for our children to obey, God wants to see us living in obedience to His commandments.
The Ten Commandments are a good baseline for living a life of goodness, but they aren’t merely a checklist to work your way into heaven. The greatest commandment is to love God, and part of loving God is loving His law. In our sinful nature, we cannot keep all of the commandments, but because we love God, we strive to do better and live a life that brings glory and honor to Him. And when we mess up, as we are going to do every day, we admit our shortcomings and ask for forgiveness. Goodness calls out immorality as sin, with no excuses!
So what is the key to goodness? Love… Genuine, sincere, no-strings-attached love. Loving God, loving His word, and loving others as Christ loves us. This kind of love is a love that lends itself to goodness. It’s the type of love that can only be found in Him- through prayer and Bible study and being filled daily with the Holy Spirit. God is love (I John 4:8), God is good (Psalm 136:1), and if we are truly allowing Him to live in us and through us, that love and goodness will spill over into a life of service and obedience.
The Bible clearly states that we are recognized by the fruit that we bear. ”Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.” (Matthew 7:17-20) We are called to be salt and light in a broken and sinful world (see Matthew 5:13-16), and whether we like it or not, people are watching us and making observations about what they see. As moms, our own children are watching us and learning from us. Sometimes it can be easy to put on a show of “goodness” for strangers and those not living under our roof, but what do our families see from us on a daily basis? As the Scripture states, “a good tree cannot bear bad fruit.” Are we good trees, bearing fruits of goodness all the time?
Goodness requires sacrifice. It means stepping away from the values of the world even while living in the world. It means standing up for God’s law when everyone else is heading in the other direction. It means letting go of our own worldly desires and longing for Him. It means giving yourself in love and service even when it results in a lack of recognition or appreciation. It means making time to spend in the Word, even when your schedule is overflowing. Goodness means loving God more.
“No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. 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. By 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.” –I John 3:6-10
“As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” –I Peter 1:14-16
“For God did not call us to be impure; but to live a holy life.” –I Thessalonians 4:7
“Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God.” -3 John 11
“So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” -2 Timothy 2:22