In our continuing study on the fruit of the spirit, we have come to goodness, which seems very related to kindness. It is does differ however in that kindness is more passive, like a toleration of other people. Goodness has an implication of strong moral character, the opposite of badness. The character traits that would indicate goodness are associated with doing the right thing regardless of who sees it, and to always place your actions before God’s eyes rather than the eyes of men. This means that we take the moral high ground in a culture that likes to use the new mantra, “cop didn’t see, I didn’t do it”. Unfortunately this mantra fails us when we realize that God sees all.
Goodness here also means that we seek to do good works. Our works should start inside the family of God and then move outward. Paul writes in Galatians 6:10 – So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith. So we see that we start with good works to those people in our church as our first resource. After the needs of our family and the needs of our church family are met, we should be actively seeking places to do good works in the community. I have observed this is where our modern ministry model breaks down on itself: we are very program-based and know of the ministry opportunities that the church provides such as meal ministries, youth groups, Awanas, and more. But are we seeking ways to serve outside the walls of the church either in parachurch ministries, or just reaching out to random people at random places in the community?
As we seek to be good, let us not worry about any rewards or recognition. We are not working for people to see, and so it does not matter if people even know who we are in our ministry. I am thinking specifically about a documentary following superheros who actually put on masks and ‘fight crime’ usually by providing presence and calling authorities. But the second half of that program followed the work that a group of those heros do when they put on masks and walk through the cities giving out care packages to the homeless people they encounter. There is nowhere (that I know of) to donate to their cause and I am not certain if they have any official organization, but out of their own pockets they buy products for their care packages, and in their own time they walk the streets in masks so no one knows who they are. This is goodness flowing out the hurting world.
As we consider the world, many of us get caught up in the evil around us. We ought not do this, but instead we should focus on the good that is in us through Christ and then seek to pass that goodness to the rest of the world. Get off the couch and turn off that television. Get out, find needs and meet them. Start with seeing what the church needs in terms of help and then branch out from there to find other organization, Christian or otherwise, where you can put your skills to work. But think even outside of that box. Some of the greatest times I ever had was when I would read at a little gas station with tables and some restaurants a few times every week, but the employees all knew where I stood with God. I was so non-threatening in my approach that they always had lots of questions about the Bible, Christians, and other faith-related topics. I would answer the questions, boldly proclaim Christ, but always be friends with everyone whether they liked my views or not. Those times were full of goodness and seed-planting that may yet result in fruit being grown. No one directed that ministry and no one was collecting whether prayers of salvation were made, the Word of God was being proclaimed. Find those opportunities and demonstrate the goodness manifest in the fruit of the spirit.