The Fruit of the Spirit #6 – Goodness

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:16-25)

Goodness means uprightness of heart and life. It’s the quality or moral excellence of the good person. It’s a kindly disposition towards others. Other words for good are: morally excellent, virtuous, righteous, of high quality, excellent, right, proper, well-behaved, kind, honorable, worthy, educated and refined, genuine, reliable, dependable, not spoiled or tainted, cheerful, optimistic, free of distress, agreeable, pleasant, warm, sufficient, competent, skillfully, socially proper, loyal

God is the final standard of good, and that all that God is and does is worthy of approval. “And Jesus said to him, why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone” (Luke 18:19). Only God is good, none other. He is our stronghold in the day of trouble, as said in Nahum 1:7 “The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, and He knows those who take refuge in Him“, and “O taste and see that the LORD is good; how blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!” (Psalm 34:8).

All that God gives in good for it is said that “every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights” (James 1:17). We receive goodness from Him when we walk uprightly, for “no good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly” (Psalm 84:11b). We receive goodness from Him when we ask Him, for “how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!” (Matthew 7:11). And we receive His goodness when we are disciplined by Him, for “He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness” (Hebrews 12:10).

We should imitate God’s goodness by doing good ourselves, doing what God approves. “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” (Galatians 6:10). We should “love your enemies, do good to those who hate you” (Luke 6:27b), and “do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it” (Proverbs 3:27).

We are strengthened by Paul’s words to the Romans when he says that “concerning you, my brethren, I myself also am convinced that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able also to admonish one another” (Romans 15:14). We have goodness in us through the grace of Jesus Christ.

The Fruit of the Spirit #5 – Kindness

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:16-25)

The dictionary definition of the kind says: “of a good or benevolent nature or disposition, as a person; indulgent, considerate, or helpful; mild; gentle; clement”. The Bible also talkes about kindness. The Greek word for “kind” or “kindness” is “chrestos” or “chrestotes” and can be defined as the virtue of the man whose neighbor’s good is as dear to him as his own. It also means fit, useful, pleasant, and manageable. It is used of wine which has grown mellow with age and lost its harshness. The same word is also used in Matthew 11:30, “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light“.

The Bible is all about relationship. Kindness is an expression of relationship. “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32), “So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Colossians 3:12). Each one of the qualities talked about in these passages express themselves in relationship. A significant measure of the Christian life is found simply in how we treat people and the quality of our relationship with them.

Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love” (2 Peter 1:5-7). Here Peter talks about becoming “partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust” (2 Peter 1:4). This doesn’t just happen; we have to be diligent (constant in our effort). We begin with faith which progesses ultimately into love. I think it’s interesting that brotherly kindness is second to last on this list, right before love.

So how do we extent kindness towards people? The Bible gives us many examples. “Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into the house; when you see the naked, to cover him; and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?” (Isaiah 58:7), “How blessed is he who considers the helpless; the LORD will deliver him in a day of trouble” (Psalm 41:1), “The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt; I am the LORD your God” (Leviticus 19:34).

One of the most famous examples of kindness is the story about the Good Samaritan. “But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion, and came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him.” (Luke 10:33-34). This parable is told by Jesus in order to illustrate that compassion should be for all people, and that fulfilling the spirit of the Law is just as important as fulfilling the letter of the Law. Jesus puts the definition of neighbor into an enlarged context, beyond what people usually thought of as a neighbor. People, who were expected to help, didn’t, while someone, whom the victim (and Jesus’ audience) despised, did. The priest may have had an “excuse” not to help since touching a dying or badly wounded person for someone so “holy”, while not forbidden, would be, in our modern vernacular, distasteful due to all the necessary cleansing rituals prescribed by Mosaic Law. The priest therefore decided that being ritually clean and “priestly” was more important than saving someone else’s life. Jesus’ unspoken challenge to all seems to be: would we help only if it’s convenient, or are we willing to go out of our way to show compassion to a stranger?

How can we extent kindness more to people? Carry someone’s yoke, lighten someone’s burden. We can, but we first have to realize that we are “partakers of the divine nature”, and be constant in our efforts.

The Fruit of the Spirit #4 – Patience

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:16-25)

Who has patience nowadays? Who does not start zapping during the commercial break and patiently waits until it’s over? Who, as a pedestrian, still patiently waits for a red light? Who still practices patience when you are in a traffic jam or have to wait for public transport? Nonetheless, patience is something to strive for. It is a discipline that can be mastered. It’s a fruit of the Spirit. Patience is honored by God, for it says in Lamentations 3:25 “The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him“. We should “rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him” (Psalm 37:7a).

When we start something (anything — watching a movie on television, going to a specific place, either walking or by car or by public transport —) we should aim to finish it, because “finishing is better than starting. Patience is better than pride” (Ecclesiastes 7:8). It is like the farmer talked about in James 5:7-8 “Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near“. We should be patient so we can reap the full potential of our produce.

Think about Job. Everything that he had was taken away from him, except his wife. Even his health was taken away. Then, three of his friends came and constantly rebuked him for his wickedness, which, in their eyes, was surely the cause of his devastation. Still, Job said “Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity? In all this, Job did not sin with his lips.” (Job 2:10b). o Job patiently endured through his suffering, and in the end, God rebukes Job’s friends. Yet, despite all of the things that Job’s friends said about him, Job prayed for his friends and accepted them when they came to make offerings for forgiveness. Then the Bible says that, “The Lord restored the fortunes of Job when he prayed for his friends, and the Lord increased all the Job had twofold” (Job 42:10)

Patience should also be practiced when it’s not clear if we will witness the finish. It should be independent of it. The prophets were often given messages about Christ, and Peter says that they desired to know who and when this person would come. However, God revealed that this message was not for them. Yet, in patience, they continued to prophecy, knowing that they would never see the fulfillment of their prophecies. Also, the prophets suffered a lot of persecution from the people. Jesus mentioned in Matthew 5:12 that the prophets were persecuted. Not only that. God often made the prophets do crazy things. Just take Ezekiel for example! He had to lay on his left side in the middle of the city for 390 days, bearing the iniquity of the house of Israel! (Ezekiel 4:4-5)

One of the great examples of patience without witnessing the finish is found in Abraham. “And so, having patiently waited, he obtained the promise” (Hebrews 6:15). Abram was 75 years old when he received the promise from God that He would make Abram into “a great nation” (see Genesis 12:1-4, 7). In Genesis 15, Abram is specifically promised a son, and God makes a covenant with him to give the land of Canaan to his descendents. Abram was probably between 85 and 90 years old at this point (see Genesis 16:3 – Abram had already dwelt in the land of Canaan for 10 years). When Abram was 99 years old, God again appeared to Abram and promised to make him “the father of a multitude of nations” (see Genesis 17:5). God also gives him the covenant of circumcision and again promises the birth of a son – to be named Isaac – from his wife, Sarai, who is 90 years old at this point (Genesis 17:17). God also changes their names to Abraham and Sarah in this meeting. In Genesis 18, the Lord again appears to Abraham and promises that his wife Sarah will have a son (see verse 10). It does not say how old they were at this point, it only mentions that “Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in age; Sarah was past childbearing” (Gen 18:11). In Genesis 21 is the record of the birth of Isaac. The Bible records that “Abraham was one hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him” (Gen 21:5). So, Abraham was patient for at least 10-15 after receiving the promise of a son (Genesis 15) and for 25 years after receiving the promise to be made into a nation, while he was continuing to grow older and older! However, the promise mentioned in Hebrews 6:15 refers to a promise that the Lord made to Abraham on the mountain where he was going to sacrifice Isaac (see Genesis 22:15-18). The promise, in essence, is that God would bless Abraham and would multiply him greatly, and that Abraham’s descendants would possess the land of their enemies. (Also that all nations would be blessed through Abraham). We could say, that Abraham never saw the fulfillment of this promise, thereby showing great patience and trust in the Lord! While Abraham did find a wife for Isaac, he never saw Isaac’s children.

The Fruit of the Spirit #3 – Peace

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:16-25)

Our God is a God of peace
It’s difficult when talking about peace not to put it in a context of world peace. No war. Although very noble and necessary to strive for this, I believe that it is naive to think that world peace is achievable. I even dare to say that world peace is not biblical. But I have to be careful saying this and support this with some arguments.

There was world peace in the beginning, harmony with God, before sin entered the world. Humankind decided to rebel against God. Sin entered the world. And sin always leads to death. Yes, there will be world peace again, but this will be at the end when there will be a new heaven and a new earth. In between there will always be sin, war and death.

And although God is a God of peace, which is mentioned in 1 Thessalonians 5:23a (“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely;” and “For God is not a God of confusion but of peace” (1 Corinthians 14:33a), He is waging war right now. Yet we can find peace in Him. He is our peace (Ephesians 2:14a). He is the source of peace. Without Him it is impossible to have peace, because even if there would be world peace yet we do not worship God, we are at war with Him.

But we have a God of peace who is with us. We are completely made holy in Him. His peace equips us in every good thing to do His will (Ephesians 2:14), and so in order to strive for peace we first have to make peace with God (be justified – Romans 5:1), after which we can start the process of santification where we should learn to understand His peace, seek His peace, preserve His peace, and bring His peace.

We have peace promised to us
On several occassions God promises peace to us. As written in Ezekiel 37:26-27 He actually made a covenant of peace with us, which means that it’s unconditional! “I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant with them and I will place them and multiply them, and will set My sanctuary in their midst forever. My dwelling place also will be with them; and I will be their God, and they will be My people.

The peace that God promises us is a peace unlike any peace we can experience apart from Him. “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you” (John 14:27). It surpasses all comprehesion, as mentioned by Paul in Philippians 4:7 “And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus“.

We have a duty of seeking and preserving peace
The Bible is quite clear about our duty to seek and preserve peace. We should “pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14), “so then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another” (Romans 14:19). But in order to do this we should “yield now and be at peace with Him; thereby good will come to you” (Job 22:21).

We must bring peace
Once we understand that peace comes from God, that we must seek and preserve it, then we must also bring the peace to other around us. We must announce this peace like it’s said in Isaiah 52:7 “How lovely on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who announces peace and brings good news of happiness, who announces salvation, and says to Zion, your God reigns!” Only the Good News of salvation is what ultimately brings peace. We can be at peace with one another, for it is said in Proverbs 16:7 that “when a man’s ways are pleasing to the LORD, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him“.

But world peace? No, we’ll have to wait for Jesus’ return (read: Revelation 19:11-16), which is maybe a topic for a future post.

The Fruit of the Spirit #2 – Joy

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:16-25)

We must understand that joy comes from God
You will make known to me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand there are pleasures forever” (Psalm 16:11). True joy can only be found in God. Not only can we fully experience this, but with help of the Spirit we can also draw strength from it or grow strong in it, for it is said “Do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10b). Secondly, we should experience joy through His salvation, because God is the embodiment of salvation, and we can joyously draw His living water from the springs of salvation. Isaiah 12:2-3 says “Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; for the LORD GOD is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation. Therefore you will joyously draw water from the springs of salvation” (Isaiah 12:2-3).

I find these verses very reassuring, and one of the first question that becomes to mind is if I really turn to God for my joy. If that was the case, if I really turn to God for my joy, then I wouldn’t try to find joy in other places than God, which also means that I don’t have idols. I don’t worship something else. I must admit that it is not the case. I do turn to other places for joy, like my wife, my daughter, good music, company of friends, etc. Not that any of these are wrong, but losing any or all of the above should not affect my joy, as none of these are the source of my joy. I like the verse from Isaiah. The fact that it is a spring of salvation implies that it is alive and active (like Jesus and His word). We should joyously drink from this living water, always.

We should actively pursue joy
Sin or an unwilling spirit causes us to not fully experience and understand the joy of the Lord that is ours. It is an action on our part to pursue this true joy. Like the psalmist asks in Psalm 51:12, “Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit“, we should ask God for a willing spirit. The combination of a willing spirit and the restoration of our joy also prepairs us much better when facing trials. Because we should “consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance” (James 1:2-3). Like Jesus facing the cross with joy (Hebrews 12:1-2) we too should pursue joy through our trials.

We must abide in joy
Once we understand that joy comes from the Lord, and that we have pursued joy, we must abide in it. We should because “a joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones” (Proverbs 17:22), and “a joyful heart makes a cheerful face, but when the heart is sad, the spirit is broken” (Proverbs 15:13), and so joy restores us, but also because we love Him and believe in Him, like is said in 1 Peter 1:8, “And though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory“.

We must bring joy to others
All of the understanding, pursuing and abiding in should lead to wanting to express that joy, share that joy with people around us. Once our joy has been restored (Psalm 51:12), it should becomes infectious and we should be led to teach others, described in the next verse Psalm 51:13, “Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners will be converted to You“. The Gospel is the good news of Jesus, which should be brought with joy like the angel who announced the birth of Jesus to Mary in Luke 2:10, “But the angel said to them, do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people“.

But joy should not only be brought to unbelievers. We should also share the joy amongst brothers and sisters in the faith, to encourage each other, as described in Acts 15:3 “Therefore, being sent on their way by the church, they were passing through both Phoenicia and Samaria, describing in detail the conversion of the Gentiles, and were bringing great joy to all the brethren“, and by Paul when writing to the church in Philippi “But even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with you all. You too, I urge you, rejoice in the same way and share your joy with me“.

We must understand that true joy can only be found in God. We must ask God for a willing spirit in order for that true joy to be restored. This involves actions on our behalf. We must actively engage in this process and pursue it, so we experience it and abide in it. I believe that once we understand and experience this true joy that comes from God, our joy becomes so infectious that we cannot stop sharing this good news of the death and resurrection of Jesus with people around us who do not believe in this. I am looking forward pursuing this as I am very curious, to say the least, to experience what this Godly joy feels like.