This piece is from a speech I delivered at a speaking engagement earlier this year. I believe it is relevant for such a time as this!
Psalm 23:6 (NIV) says “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Then…there is Luke 6:27-28 (NIV) that says, “but to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” As I was studying goodness, one of the fruits of the Spirit, my flesh got uncomfortable. I began to sweat thinking about some of the missed opportunities to do good and also who God might direct me to be good to next, that I really do not want to. As I kept studying, I realized this is exactly where God wants me to be…uncomfortable. The Fruits of the Spirit are not merely things we should do with our lives, but things we should be willing to produce. Think instead, “I seek to produce love, produce joy, produce peace, produce kindness, produce gentleness, produce self-control, produce patience, produce goodness, produce self-control.”. This requires the consistent mortification of our flesh; in other words, destroying the strength, vitality, or functioning of our flesh, in order to bring forth the Fruits of the Spirit. This does not come naturally to a sinful man.
I have the duty at this very moment to help bring forth (produce) goodness in our lives. What is goodness? The root of goodness is beneficence, which means purposefully looking for opportunities to do good. From the scripture I read earlier, Pslam 23: 6, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” we see that because God is Good His very nature can not do anything but be good to us because that is who He is. On the other hand, as we are called to produce good in our lives, goodness does not come so easily. True goodness comes from the heart. Have you ever thought about, “How can a sinful man, a person who is not good and can never be good, be good and do good to and for others?” The answer is commitment. You must be committed to do good because it’s our God-given duty to do good, regardless of what it costs us. In James 1: 22-25 (NIV), the scripture reads, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it-not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it-they will be blessed in what they do.”
Producing goodness requires action. Producing goodness requires daily action. Listen carefully, being kind and avoiding evil is not equivalent to producing goodness. Maybe…kindness is the first step towards goodness. Think on this, you may be a naturally kind person and still be missing the mark in producing goodness. For example, let’s think about some kind acts…things like saying “God bless you when someone sneezes, saying “I’m sorry” when you step on someone’s toe. Passing the bread when someone asks you around the dinner table. Holding the door open for someone. Sharing your pen when your neighbor needs one to fill out their tithe envelope. Ha! Goodness goes beyond these actions and challenges the very core of who we are in order to come into the likeness of Christ. Kindness is more about our attitude and how we behave towards others, whereas, goodness is something you intentionally look for opportunities to do for others. Acts 10:38 (NIV) says, “…how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.”
Producing goodness should be challenging…a spiritual battle against your flesh…it may even produce an eye roll here and there. Producing goodness means you will have to suffer sometimes to fulfill your duty. Your flesh is not going to want to do what is good because our very sinful nature resists good. 1 Peter 2: 20 speaks of this suffering and says, “But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God.” Luke 6: 27 goes on to say, “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you…” It is easy to do good to others that like you and reciprocates your actions by doing good for you. But this is not the goodness that God speaks of that produces fruit. This is a selfish form of goodness that mainly benefits you in some way. The goodness that God desires is selfless. It has nothing to do with what you may get in return from others, but only desires God’s approval. The fight for goodness will be exhausting and emotionally draining. I say this with assurance because of the scripture in, Galatians 6: 9-10 that says, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time, we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”
Have a readiness in your spirit to do good to all. Don’t spend your lives just being kind, but look for opportunities produce goodness. There is no law against doing good. You cannot be condemned or punished for righteous behavior. You may suffer, you may grow weary, but your commitment to goodness gets you blessed and reflects God’s goodness that attaches itself to us daily, because He has no choice but to be good!