I’ve struggled to write about goodness more than any of the other fruit. It seems so simple, so self-explanatory. Who can’t hear their mom’s voice echoing in their head, “Be good.” Every kid knows what it means and knows when they haven’t been.
Paul tells us that even people who have no explicit knowledge of God know right from wrong, that God has wired us to know this.
But perhaps there’s a bit more to “being good” than what we thought about as children.
When mom said, “Be good,” she usually meant, “Don’t do anything wrong.”
But being good is also about doing what is right.
When I think about goodness, I think about the person who goes back to the store clerk to apologize for being rude, the person who comes clean to their boss when they screw up, the person who serves and gives when it is inconvenient.
Now I want to be careful here because following Jesus has far too often been turned into following a list of “don’ts.” And other times we turn it into a list of “dos.”
The fact is that we aren’t and can’t be good enough for God. And we can’t be too bad for God.
Without the blood of Jesus all of our goodness is as filthy rags, but with the blood of Jesus there’s nothing that can separate us from God.
Goodness isn’t about earning our salvation. Quite the contrary: our goodness is a response to God’s grace. It is the fruit of having the Spirit of God living in us, of seeking after and pursuing God through prayer, meditation, fasting, and even simply inviting God into our everyday actions.