FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT, Series Post No. 18
GOODNESS – A FUNDAMENTAL CHARACTERISTIC OF GOD
God’s goodness is expressed in the very first reference to God in Scripture. In Genesis 1 we read of the creation done by God simply at the power of His words.
And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. An God saw that the light was good.
Genesis 1:3-4. This continued through creation and then, in verses 26-27, 31 we read:
“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. … And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.”
Have you ever worked hard to create something and then looked at it and saw the imperfections, the mistakes, the “oops” that no one else would see, and then say to yourself, “it’s nice” or “it’s fairly good” or “not bad for a first attempt”.
That’s not what happened in Genesis 1 – God created the world and all there is in it and when the Triune God was done on the sixth day, He looked at his completed creation and said not only that each of the component parts were good, He declared that “it was VERY GOOD” and it included mankind, created in His image, for fellowship and relationship with Him. God is Good and we were created in His image.
Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the children of mankind! In the cover of your presence you hide them from the plots of men; you store them in your shelter from the strife of tongues.
For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him.
2 Chronicles 16:9
- God’s goodness is shown in His long-suffering, forbearance and slowness to anger that continues toward persons who have persisted in sinning.
The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness…
Yet he, being compassionate, atoned for their iniquity and did not destroy them; he restrained his anger often and did not stir up all his wrath.
Theologian J. I. Packer says that the supreme expression of God’s goodness is His amazing grace and inexpressible love that is evidenced by His saving sinners, who deserve only condemnation, at the tremendous cost of Christ’s death on Calvary.
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. — but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
- God’s goodness includes His glorious kindness and generosity that touches all His creatures.
In his book Knowing God, J. I. Packer calls Psalm 107 the classical exposition of God’s goodness. The psalmist begins with the call to give thanks for God’s goodness.
Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble. Vs. 1-2
The psalmist then identifies four problems from which God has given aid to Israel.
- God redeems those who are helpless from their enemies;
- God delivers from “darkness and the shadow of death” – Hallelujah –notably reference in the text is even made that this was brought about because of the people’s rebellion against God and yet he delivered anyway;
- God provided healing for diseases that He had brought upon the people to discipline the “fools” who disregarded him; and
- God protected those who traveled by sea when storms arose that would have sunk their ship but He intervened and stilled the storm.
Looking at the psalm, each of these situations and rescues concludes with the same refrain:
“Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man!”
Psalm 107 is not the only place where we are told to sing God’s praises for His goodness in creation and the history of His people.
In Psalm 136 we find verses that sing of God’s goodness with each verse ending with the refrain “for His steadfast love endures forever.” Verse 1 begins the psalm with “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever” and the last verse commands that we “Give thanks to the God of Heaven, for his steadfast love endures forever.”
So we know God is Good … and we know that we are not good apart from Jesus. So, what are we to do?
Jesus said in Matthew 5:16:
“Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
We are to do works that are good so that we give glory to God. We reflect His glory and tell of His goodness when we magnify His great name before others. That is our purpose in goodness before men.
How does this apply to my daily life?
So, what good works do we do? How do we let our light shine before men? How do we give glory to God?
There are multitudes of ways that we can perform good works through the Holy Spirit provided through Jesus Christ to us. Here, however, we will be looking at 1) generosity and 2) appreciation of excellence and beauty.
- Regarding Generosity —
Our doing good freely should be done liberally and bountifully. We are not to be skimpy givers, but we are to be open-hearted and open-handed. See 2 Corinthians 9:8, 11. In verse 6, Paul reminds the Corinthians that if they sow sparingly, they will reap sparingly; and conversely, if they sow bountifully, they will reap bountifully.
We will have a desire for the good will of others. This is an imitation of the love and grace of God and of the love of Christ which desires the good of men. See Luke 2:14.
We show our willingness to do good to other simply by doing it! Where there is power to act, the act will always follow the will. Scripture speaks of doing good as the evidence of love. I John 3: 18-19.
“My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. Hereby we know that we are of the truth.”
We will seek opportunity to do good to the soul and body of others. Our benevolence should be universal, constant, free, habitual and according to our opportunities and ability, as we follow the commands of God. To freely do good to others is to do to them as we would have them do to us, that is the enactment of “the Golden Rule.” To freely do good to others encourages us to remember how kind God and Christ have been to us and how much we have received from them, every moment of every day. 2 Corinthians 8:9.
- Regarding appreciation of what is good, true and beautiful:
Dr. R. C. Sproul says “One thing that comes with the fruit of goodness is a new appreciation for what is good, true and beautiful.”
We have already spoken of God’s beautiful creation. In Exodus 28:2 God tells the people how to make Aaron’s garments:
“And you shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother, for glory and for beauty”.
Note that Aaron’s garments were to reflect God’s glory and beauty! We know the tabernacle in the wilderness and the temple in Jerusalem were pinnacles of beauty and the directions for their building did not come from designers or architects but directly from God.
Another example of the appreciation of beauty as coming from the Goodness of our Creator God is the work of the composer Johan Sebastian Bach.
Bach composed his music as an apologetic for the existence of God. Pointing to the order of creation and the beauty therein, Bach wanted his music to point to the existence of God when, during the period known as the Enlightenment, people were arguing that man was the be all and end all and there was no need for God anymore. Although born in 1685 and living only until 1750, Bach’s witness for God is far from silent in our own day!
Bach himself said:
“Music’s only purpose should be the glory of God and the recreation of the human spirit.”
Music was given to glorify God in heaven and to edify men and women on earth. It wasn’t to make lots of money or to feed the musician’s ego or to be famous. Music was about blessing the Lord and blessing others.
Listen to “O Sacred Head Now Wounded” as composed by J. S. Bach and as performed by the Brentwood Jazz Quartet.
But Bach’s music goes far beyond merely reflecting God’s orderly creation – it contains the message of the Gospel when used by the Holy Spirit.
C. S. Lewis opined that the world does not need more Christian literature – it needs more Christians writing good literature or more Christians composing good works of music or of art. When we produce art that is good; art that reflects a biblical world view, its richness will endure through the ages.
Does your experience with the Fruit of the Spirit of Goodness give you a new appreciation for the good, true and beautiful?
God is Good
- His goodness underlies his love, his redemptive acts and his securing of our eternal blessings.
- His goodness is evidenced in creation, and in truth and all things beautiful.
- May we give our best to the Lord and may we do good for Him, whether it be in acts of benevolence for others or in writing or composing … whatever we do, may it be to the Glory of God for He alone is Good and his Goodness extends to all generations.
Take some time this week to listen to some beautiful music or look at some beautiful scenery and let your Spirit soar as you glorify your God in meditation. Do some good act of benevolence for someone anonymously and let the Spirit work His will in both the recipient and you, the giver. Daily, praise the Lord, for He is Good.
Blessings to you and I pray that you will continue to walk with me as we learn about the fruit of the Holy Spirit and as we mature in our transformation into Christian believers who speak and act as Jesus did and who share in the passions that Jesus had for the lost sheep and for the worship of His Father, the Almighty God.