September 15, 2020
THE GEORGIA CAPITOL DEVOTIONAL - 15 September 2020
Galatians 5:22-23, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”
What is stated in the book of Galatians is evidence that you and I are living as people who demonstrate we are truly in vital union – we have a connectedness – with God. Of those 9 attributes, which ones do you long to develop more in your life? Probably most of us would say patience or the need for greater self-control. Did you think of developing goodness? Maybe you did, but probably not. The reason for that is because it is easier to define what it means to be loving, patient, and kind, yet goodness is less obvious. The fact that you will likely here the word “good” many times today in everyday conversation (“how is your family?,” “did you get that email?,” “how was your weekend?”) only seeks to obscure the meaning of goodness and make this attribute seem rather subjective.
Nevertheless, the Bible tells believers in Jesus Christ that we need to be good, we need to practice goodness. As Christians, followers of Jesus Christ, we believe that God created us. All humanity bears God’s image. The imago Dei (the image of God) is what constitutes you and me as human in our essence.
Second Corinthians 5:20 refers to believers as “ambassadors of Christ,” which means we are the Lord’s representatives. As his image bearers, his representatives, there are certain things that God’s people were created to do. One of those is to be good and to practice goodness. What, then, does it mean to be good and to practice goodness?
Goodness is a quality of God that is directly related to morality. When I was pastor at a particular church, they had a practice established prior to my arrival where I would say, “God is good” and the congregation would reply, “all the time.” The assertion that God is good all the time is an affirmation of God’s character. The Greek word for “goodness” is agothusune, which refers to intrinsic goodness; and, as it relates to believers, “goodness” is that which comes from God and proves itself in spiritual, moral excellence; it is an “uprightness of heart and life.”
The prophet Micah (6:8) referred to “what is good” as doing what the Lord requires, namely doing justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly before God. Goodness is pursuing what is right and abstaining from what is not; it is moral excellence, a virtue that is sought. Agothusune is goodness for the benefit of others, as opposed to goodness simply for the sake of being virtuous.
Goodness involves acting selflessly on behalf of others. We help someone who may be struggling with sin. We help those who have need, we provide for our families, volunteer for benevolent causes, or even pray for an enemy. There are many expressions of goodness, so you can be creative.
Goodness is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, which means it is not a virtue we can produce on our own. James 1:17 affirms, “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down” from God Himself. We are blessed with the fruit of goodness when letting the Holy Spirit work within us. Therefore, as Jesus said, “let your light shine . . . in such a way that [people will] . . . see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matt 5:16).
Ron J. Bigalke, Ph.D.
Capitol Commission Georgia
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