Thursday, July 3, 2008

God is good to us

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness....
Galatians 5:22

In my last post on the Fruit of the Spirit, I noted that “kindness” was a moral goodness (righteousness) that cannot exist apart from the Spirit of God. Romans 3:12 tells us there is no one who naturally has that moral goodness. Now, I am on the next part of the Fruit, which is “goodness.” But, this goodness (Greek agathosune) is not an inward morality but an outward beneficence; it is an active working for the benefit of others, even at great cost to ourselves. The word for goodness in Gal 5 is from the root agathos, which Paul used in Romans 7:18 when he wrote, “For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh.” Humans are naturally selfish; we don’t, even in our best days, look primarily toward the good of others. Yet, the Fruit of the Spirit is not only “kindness,” or an internal moral goodness, but “goodness,” in our actions toward others. Jesus even told us to do good (agathopoieo) to those who hate us and Paul wrote that from the beginning of time, God has been good to mankind giving them rain and crops, “satisfying your hearts with food and happiness.” The Fruit of the Spirit changes our inner being, giving us moral integrity, but it also changes our actions, giving us a desire labor for others.


Father, you are truly good, having given humanity the blessings of this earth, which you created.
And you gave us the witness of your creation to testify to us about your glory and grace.

You bore with humanity as we turned your creation into an object of worship. We became idolaters. But, you sent prophets to Israel and taught your people about your glory. And when the time was right, you sent Jesus to do good to those who hated you. And you sent his disciples out among the people of the earth.

It is true, Father, that I cannot do good on my own. My sinful nature guides my passions toward myself. But, through the good work you have begun in me, you are changing my heart. I pray that you will continue to help me become more like Jesus; help me find such satisfaction in you that I would have the desire to do good even to those who do evil to me.

And even when I am not facing persecution, Father, build in me a heart for others so that I would work for their good. Allow me to be among those willing to sacrifice to bring your good news to others. Every day, I live with people who do not know you and are dying apart from you. Help me be a witness among them to your goodness. And give me the heart, Father, to do good as a husband and father, so that I can demonstrate your goodness to those you have entrusted to my care.

May I never forget your goodness toward me, and may I live each day in complete trust and awe of your grace.

In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

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