Goodness

The fruit (action) of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness(generosity), faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Gal: 5:22)

“Oh my goodness! For goodness’ sake! Goodness me!”

Goodness seems to be relegated to mild expletives, taking the place of God – no need to use the Lord’s name in vain! Not a lot of content to the word, even if used frequently. Do we think about goodness anymore?

Another translation of the word is generosity, and that opens up new ways of understanding goodness as a fruit of the Spirit.

Being generous is more than giving things away or sharing toys in the sandbox: it’s a way of seeing reality. Generosity sees a world of blessing, and a life held fast by God. There is no need to hoard money or material goods because abundant life comes from God. A generous person can give freely because God has given freely.

It’s opposite is stinginess – a great word, but not such a great quality. Stinginess grasps the heart and squeezes, making it hard to breathe and almost impossible to unclench the fists long enough to give anything away. The stingy person cannot give anything away freely because it might be needed later. Scarcity may not be a present reality, but it’s just around the corner. All things must be kept, just in case. Just in case what? It’s the “just in case” mentality that harms the soul and makes generosity impossible.

Generosity isn’t spending recklessly or foolishly. Running up credit card debt to lavish unnecessary gifts on others or live beyond one’s means is about self-image and keeping up with others, not generosity. Generosity is sharing what is ours to share, giving to enrich the lives of others because God has given so much to us.

Generosity/Goodness requires us to be who we are, and to know that who we are is good enough. When we know our worth isn’t the sum of our belongings, we can give without reservation – goodness that means something. Then we can say with the psalmist, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”   – and we can mean it.

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Johnna

I am a Christian educator and writer.I have worked in churches, denominational offices, and seminaries. I have a PhD in Theology from Princeton Theological Seminary, with a focus on Practical Theology and educating in faith. In 2010, my book, "How the Other Half Lives: the challenges facing clergy spouses and partners," was published by Pilgrim Press. I believe that words can build doorways that lead to encounters with God through the Spirit.

2 thoughts on “Goodness”

  1. or as my Alabama-bred momma used to say when truly perturbed “my goodness gracious!” Nice blog, thank you. I’m still into vainglory so I liked this one better.
    Bill

    1. I think vainglory is a place we all love to visit. I guess the trick is not to make it our permanent residence…peace, Johnna

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