Goodness looks at first glance like one of the most obvious ones in the list of fruit of the Spirit. It is obvious that Christians should be good, right? So lets look at the original Greek word according to Thayer’s Greek Definitions:
ἀγαθωσύνη (agathōsunē): 1) uprightness of heart and life, goodness, kindness
Goodness is uprightness, not only of heart, but also of life. So goodness is not just how we think about things, it is very much so also how we act.
If we think back to the old testament, the law was given to guide people on how to live in a way that is good. “You shall not murder.” (Exodus 20:13 WEBBE) Yep, breaking that would certainly be the opposite of good. “You shall not steal.” (Exodus 20:15 WEBBE) Again, a guideline for a good life.
Now if people in the old testament times were already supposed to have goodness, why is it even listed as a fruit of the Spirit?
Romans 8:2-4 (WEBBE): 2For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus made me free from the law of sin and of death. 3For what the law couldn’t do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God did, sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh; 4that the ordinance of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
Ephesians 2:8-9 (WEBBE): 8for by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9not of works, that no one would boast.
Jesus’ redemptive work made all the difference! Now we no longer have to follow the letter of the law to be saved. But rather, we live out the fruit of the Spirit such as goodness because we were already saved. The fruit is the result of the Holy Spirit living in us, not the prerequisite.
The fruit of the Spirit are meant to impact the people around us, as much or even more than ourselves. So what is goodness useful for?
Romans 12:21 (WEBBE): 21Don’t be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
As a child of God, you have access to goodness through the Holy Spirit. So use it to overcome evil!