Goodness – the Lenten Journey

The sixth fruit of the spirit is Goodness.

I’ll be honest. This is the most difficult fruit of the Spirit to wrap my limited mind around. I think of goodness as acts committed by a person. These are sometimes difficult to define as good .

I’ve been taking this Lenten journey hand in hand with this website http://enrichmentjournal.ag.org/top/fruit6_goodness.cfm which is sponsored by the Assemblies of God through their Enrichment Journal. That websites is an erudite study of the linguistics and meaning of biblical passages. It quite often gives me an idea or two. In the case of Goodness, it gave me all of my ideas.

The term good or Good is used ubiquitously. We are told to be good for goodness sake. I often tell my own children to “Be good”. So, what does that look like, feel like, sound like? Honestly, I have never put serious thought into the idea about the definition of what good would truly be. I am not a philosopher. I am just a writer, mom, educator and Christian trying to meander through the world with the least amount of damage to myself and others.

After reading through the extensive passage from the Enrichment Journal, I came to the conclusion that Goodness as a fruit of the Spirit is manifested when our will is subservient to God’s will. Only then can I have Goodness with a capital “G”.

In the short expanse of my life I have learned that life is suffering and that life can be terribly difficult at times. It is unavoidable. Even Buddha recognized the essential quality of suffering in life.

The difference can be felt when we turn our lives and wills over to God. It is then that our suffering can be transformed to “Good”. That transformation occurs when we follow God’s commands in our lives.

It is not an easy thing to turn our wills over to God. First, we need to establish a trusting relationship with that God. Second, we need to begin to seek His will in every aspect of our lives. Third, we need to shut up and do that will. There have been times in my life when I have felt compelled to do something and I didn’t out of fear. Then regret sept into my heart and then later regret took hold.

In the moments when I did act, I did it only by asking God for the strength and grace to go through with the compulsion to act on His will. And every time I put my will and my fears aside, my soul was rewarded tremendously.

One of these moments occurred when a co-worker of mine asked me to phone a friend in the last stages of his fight with cancer. He asked me to reach out to him because he was beginning to suffer in mind, and spirit. I emailed the rest of the staff and asked them also to reach out to our mutual afflicted friend. I was the only one that did. And, it was difficult. I prayed every time I called him. I called four times before he finally passed three weeks later. I prayed every time I called. They were difficult conversations as he deteriorated into tears sharing his deepest fears that his two young boys would grow up without their father. I didn’t know how to console him. I just reminded him that he wasn’t alone and that he and his family were in my prayers. I was the only person from our staff to call him. The only other people to call him were fellow Christians who felt the strong compulsion to reach out and call despite the fact none of us had been on the same road that he was taking into death.

I was rewarded in those phone calls, because I was privy at the end to be a part of his family. I spoke at his funeral when only one other person dared to stand up. Only I and a former student stood up and spoke among a large gathering of 80 or so people. I was rewarded by knowing that within hours of his death he was baptized for the first time in his life along with his four year old son. I was blessed to be a friend to someone who desperately needed to hear that he was not alone in the end. I put my fearful will aside and I put my trust in God to do what was Good and not what I felt.

That is the only way I know how to be truly Good. I set aside my fearful, weak will and follow the greater will of God.

Below is an excerpt from the website: http://enrichmentjournal.ag.org/top/fruit6_goodness.cfm.

I was tempted to just put the passage below as this post, as it is superbly written and expresses the meaning of Goodness better than I captured it. That wouldn’t be my journey then, it would be that writers. But, I felt that I had to include it.

The fruit of the Spirit must continually be cultivated. We do not produce them once for all time. We need to sow to the Spirit continually so goodness will be expressed in our lives instead of the old selfish qualities. If I meditate on envy, jealousy, lusts, worries, or fears I am going to reap from them some very selfish evil fruit in my behavior and relationships. I may explode all over someone and cause great harm rather than good. But when I sow to the Spirit by meditating on God’s qualities through the Word, I will bear good fruit of kind, generous, beneficial acts toward others. I will help others experience God’s forgiving, restoring love in Christ through faith. I will also live a morally pure life according to God’s holiness. Bearing goodness means God can depend on me to be honest, repent of my sins, and turn away from evil. We need to continually seek to express this goodness in our responses and actions toward others.

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