Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Savoring a Cup of Tea: Fruit of the Spirit (Goodness)

For other Fruit of the Spirit posts, check the series index in the right margin of the blog. This post is dedicated to my friend Kelly, mentioned below as my Bible study partner when I first studied the fruit of the Spirit.

I've been putting off writing about goodness because it's a hard fruit of the Spirit for me to understand sometimes--how can I be good? Aren't I a sinner, with a heart that is deceitful above all things? Isn't "good" a state of being? How can the Spirit make me more good when, because of Christ's work on the cross, I have already been justified in the sight of God?

Well, when all else fails, read the directions, right? Since I can't read Greek, I turned to a study on the fruit of the Spirit I did with a friend a few summers ago: Living Beyond Yourself by Beth Moore. This was a really great study by the way. At any rate, this study shed some light on this particular fruit of the Spirit, partly by telling what the Greek word translated "goodness" really means!

Here's a quotation that sums it up nicely: "The Greek word for goodness is agathosune. It means 'benevolent' and 'active goodness.' Agathosune 'is more than ...gentleness, kindness, a mellowing of characters. It is character energized, expressing itself in...benevolence, active good.... Agathosune does not spare sharpness and rebuke to cause good in others. A person may display his agathosune, his zeal for goodness and truth, in rebuking, correcting, or chastising.'" Moore goes on to point out that this goodness, this agathosune, pairs up nicely with other fruits of the Spirit, such as kindness and gentleness, to make us wise as serpents and innocent as doves.

When I reread that explanation of what the Greek word commonly translated as goodness really connotes, it's easy to see how goodness is indeed a fruit of the Spirit--and one we should pray for earnestly. Imagine a roommate who is actively good, someone who takes the time to not only serve her roommate(s) but perhaps gently point out sin (I, thankfully, had roommates like this--I have reminded my husband that he has several of my previous roommates to thank for the sharpening they did to my character before he had to live with me!). Or, think of a parent who, in conjunction with other fruits of the Spirit such as patience, love, and gentleness rebukes a child, correcting some small sin before it grows into ugly adulthood. Or, better still, what about a wife who lovingly and joyfully is actively seeking her husband's good. Goodness is certainly something we should pray that the Spirit grows in our lives!

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