"Goodness" is 6th in Paul's list of the "fruit of the Spirit," (Galatians 5:22-23) and it is important that it is included in the fruit of the Spirit.
Think of the many examples of goodness that we are seeing all around our nation. People are stepping up to check on their elderly neighbors, calling to see if they need anything. Stores are opening up special Senior Hours. Doctors and nurses are working endless hours caring for the ill; and as they do so they are risking their own life and health. I heard of one doctor who set up a tent in his garage. He was working with the very sick, and he did not want to endanger his family. So when he comes home he doesn't come home -- he comes to the tent in the garage. Where did they learn this goodness; this devotion to care for their neighbor?
Again, around the country companies are retooling to make ventilators. People are buying masks for the doctors and nurses. An amazing number of business owners are figuring out how to care for their employees, more concerned with holding together the daily needs of their employees. It is truly an amazing thing to see. Where did this all come from?
Women volunteer to gather the materials and sew masks for others. Teens volunteer to help wherever they are needed. Grandparents take in grandchildren for an extended stay so the parents can work (and we loved it). We pray for each other and call each other. And all over the nation when asked, Churches have right away stopped meeting and adapted to doing everything on line, because we want to protect our neighbor.
There is great goodness. And there are examples of great selfishness, but the many, many examples of goodness are prominent, numerous, and inspiring. Where did this all come from?
Goodness is a fruit of the Spirit. It is a thing that God grows in the human heart. The Holy Spirit does His work deep inside, calling us and reminding us that we are made in the image of God. He calls us to every good and noble thing that is within us. He works even within those who do not believe in God, because every one of these good and noble things is a part of the pattern that we were created in.
But there is more. God must Himself be good if He is going to teach and lead us into goodness. That is a basic truth. So we could run through some of the other fruit of the Spirit. "The fruit of the Spirit is love[because God is a loving God, and "God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son" (John 3:16)], joy [God is the joyful God who rejoices in the creation of mankind and rejoices that you live (Proverbs 8:30-31)], peace [He is the God of peace who gives peace as the world cannot give (John 14:27) ], patience[patient and not willing that any should perish (2 Peter 3:9)], kindness [many times the Bible speaks of God's kindness to us in Jesus], [and now] goodness . . . "
As you look around and see the many examples and acts of goodness in these days, realize that you are seeing the hand of God at work. He draws us into and leads in His own work of goodness.
And as you become involved in care for your neighbor, realize that it is God who is at work in you. You may not see how He is doing it, but believe me He is inviting you into His own work. And that is the greatest "you" that you can ever be.
And one more thing. God might begin in your life with things of doing and acting, and all the other outward parts of life. There is more. God knows you deep within your soul and He leads into all the amazing spiritual things that are eternal in Jesus.
Lord Jesus, thank you for the goodness I see around me in the many ways we are caring for one another. Lead me into acts of goodness so I may help my neighbor. Form my soul and my inner character that I may grow in goodness within and walk with Jesus. Let me learn of You, that I may more and more see Your goodness, until I see You in the goodness of Your glory. Amen.
Rev. Mark Willig
Pastor Willig is pastor emeritus of Friends in Christ Lutheran Church.