T. David Sustar

B. Childress
March 7, 2008

Moffatt translates goodness as "
generosity."  Weymouth translates it as "benevolence."  James Hamilton defines
goodness as "love in action, love with its hand to the plow, love with the burden on its back, love carrying medicine to
the sick and food to the famished."

The Greek word is
agathosune. Barclay defines it as "generous goodness" and says, "The great characteristic of
agathosune is the generosity which gives man what he never could have earned."

In truth, Christians should be more interested in giving than getting, revealing a "generous goodness."  The very
nature of God is giving.  His children are to share His nature.  God did not attempt to see how little He could give, but
He gave His best.  In like manner we should see how much we can give, even to those who do not deserve it.  When
we stop to see if others merit our gift, we have missed the point of the "generous goodness" of this fruit of the Spirit.

Goodness is love in action - but not just for one great gesture!  It is not only righteousness imputed but also
righteousness demonstrated in everyday living.  It is doing what is good out of a good heart without expecting
rewards.  Self has no place.

Goodness speaks of our conduct toward others, "(
For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and
) Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord."  Ephesians 5:9.  With God every heartbeat must reveal goodness.

Good Men in the Word of God

Our Lord was addressed as "Good Master" in Mark 10:17,18; Joseph of Arimathea was considered to be a "good man
and a just" man (Luke 23:50), who was waiting for the kingdom of God (Luke 23:51); Barnabas was characterized  as a
kind man, willing to put his life on the line for a brother.  The Bible also declares that he was a "good man, and full of
the Holy Ghost and of faith" (Acts 11:24).

Of course there were other good men in the Bible.  Just because the Bible only mentions three, does not mean there
were not others who were good or that we can't be good.  Conversely, we
must be and can be good, "A good man out
of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things:  and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil
"  Matthew 12:35.

Being Good versus Doing Good

Do not draw the wrong conclusion.  We are not in a contest between being good and doing good. Though some
scenes from Scripture seem to give that impression, when more closely observed, a single truth stands out.

The first scene is that a number of people who wish to enter heaven but hit a snag.  The royal welcome they expected
has not materialized.  A stop sign stands in their way.  With one voice they begin their defense, noting why they should
be granted entrance:
"...Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name?  and in thy name cast out devils?  and in thy
name done many wonderful works?  And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work
"  Matthew 7:22.23

These people had done good works, but Jesus declared He
never knew them and that they were evil. Bennie S.
Triplett in
A Contemporary Study of the Holy Spirit, describes this type of goodness as "goody-goody suffocating
sweetness which smothers everyone with a mushy sentimentality  Such phoney gushiness is a coverup, either for guilt
or insecurity.  Goodness is often distorted and made unattractive by those who labor so painfully and obviously at
being good.  Like the Pharisees, they are obsessed with things and doing rather than being."

The second scene is much better.  It is a picture of the division of the sheep on the right and the goats on the left hand
of the Son of God as He judges the nations:

Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand,  Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared
for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was a stranger, and ye took
me in: Naked, and ye clothed me:  I was sick, and ye visited me:  I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
"  Matthew

Notice the response, a question of surprise, by those who receive this grand welcome, "
Then shall the righteous
answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
" Matthew

They stand before the King, with the doors of heaven open, yet wondering if He is talking to them. They cannot
comprehend the King ever being hungry, thirsty, a stranger, sick, naked, or in prison.  They cannot remember ever
taking anything to Him.

Note His answer, "
And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it
unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
"  Matthew 25:40

He then turns to those on His left hand and casts them into everlasting punishment because they failed to minister to
the hungry, thirsty, sick, naked, strangers, or prisoners.  The sheep on His right hand were ushered into everlasting

Do you get the picture?  
We are to be the people of God before we attempt to do the work of God.  Jesus is more
concerned about what we are
being than what we are doing. He knows if we will be good, we will do good (Matthew
7:17-20)!  Remember, the fruit of character must precede the fruit of harvest!

Righteousness Must Triumph

In a devotional on the fruit of goodness, Clyne W. Buxton says,

"Good people in the local church are always at a premium.  Those whose deportment is not just a facade or a
pretense of goodness, who are genuinely committed to Christ and His service are invaluable.  Some people may
spend their time trying to make themselves appear good.  Others, meanwhile, demonstrate goodness by holy living, by
preferring others before themselves, and by constantly putting forth an effort to help and encourage those about

People living in proper relationships are so much better than those who are forever finding fault, arguing or, as the
Bible says, "devouring one another."

The Church Expresses Goodness

Romans 12 is a powerful explanation of the duties of the church.  This chapter shows how the surrendered life flows
into the church life - we are members one of another.  The revelation of how we should treat one another leaves little
to the imagination, "
Let love be without dissimulation.  Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.  Be kindly
affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;
"  Romans 12:9,10.  

The apostle Paul instructed us to distribute to the necessity of the saints, be given to hospitality and even to "
them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.
"  Romans 12:14.  We are to weep with those who weep and rejoice
with those who rejoice.  Never should we repay evil with evil.

He summarized, "
Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written,
overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

The church must heed this admonition today.  We are the followers of the Lamb, the gentle Son of God.  He was our
example, and He went about doing good.  The psalmist cried, "
Thou art good, and doest good; teach me thy statutes."  
Psalm 119:68.  That cry came out of a relationship with God: "
O taste and see that the LORD is good:  blessed is the
man that trusteth in him.
"  Psalm 34:8.

His Goodness, Our Goodness

Through the work of the Holy Spirit, the goodness of Christ becomes our goodness.  The goodness of God which led
us to repentance (Romans 2:4) reminds us of another side of God:  "
For if God spared not the natural branches, take
heed lest he also spare not thee.  Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but
toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness:  otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.
" Romans 11:21,22.

God has revealed His goodness to us that we might be Godlike in our dealings with our fellowman.  Matthew reminds
us, "
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in
"  Matthew 5:16

If we will be good, we will do good.  Let's be the people of God before we attempt to do the works of God!


A Layman's guide to the Fruit of the Spirit, by T. David Sustar, Copyright 1990, Pathway Press.