Goodness and FaithJuly 26, 2016
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith. — Galatians 5:22
Once when I was flying from New York City to another city in the United States, I noticed the man sitting next to me had his head lowered against the seat. I could tell he was experiencing some kind of terrible throbbing pain in his head, so I asked him, “Is there any way I can pray for you?” The man peered up at me with a look of joyful surprise. I knew from his response that he was a believer! He was delighted that I had offered to pray for him, so with his permission, I reached over and laid my hands on him. Then I began to speak healing over the pain he was feeling in his head.
After prayer, I asked the man, “What do you do for a living?” He told me, “I am a wealthy businessman. I have joined together with several other very wealthy businessmen, and as a team, we travel the world over to find worthy organizations and evangelical works that need money to advance the Kingdom of God. Once we find them, we make it our business to fund them so they can operate without having to worry about raising money.”
When I thought about this man and the goodness of his heart, I was reminded of the word “goodness” in Galatians 5:22, where the apostle Paul writes, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness….” This man’s desire to give is exactly what the word “goodness” is all about. His urge to help others demonstrated the fruit of goodness, which is supernaturally produced in the hearts of believers by the Holy Spirit.
The word “goodness” is the Greek word agathusune, which comes from the word agathos, meaning good. But when agathos becomes the word agathusune, it means goodness in the sense of being good to someone. This word was used to portray a person who is generous, big-hearted, liberal, and charitable with his finances. We would call this person a giver.
By reading Acts 10:38, we find that this fruit of the Spirit operated mightily in Jesus. It says, “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.” Most people who preach from this verse focus primarily on the healing portion of this verse, but today I want to draw your attention to the phrase “doing good,” because it is so crucial to this discussion.
The words “doing good” are from the word euergeteo, which is an old word that denoted a benefactor, a philanthropist, or one who financially supported charitable works. This word would only be used to describe a person who possessed great financial substance and who used it to assist those who were less fortunate.
The implication of the word eugereteo is that Jesus possessed a great amount of financial resources in His ministry. In addition to the offerings that were received for His ministry, Luke 8:3 tells us that a group of very wealthy women also financially supported His ministry. Also, we can infer from Judas’ words in John 12:5 that Jesus’ ministry had a significant philanthropic outreach to the poor and needy over which Judas had been placed in charge.
I find this very significant, for it tells me that Jesus didn’t only perform supernatural works; He also used His resources to do good works in the natural realm. Jesus cared for the poor; He helped feed the needy; and He utilized the vast resources of money made available to His ministry to meet the basic needs of human beings. Thus, He set an example for us to be concerned for and involved in the meeting of basic human needs as we are able to do so.
This tells me that acting in “goodness” is a character feature of the nature of God. Luke mentioned this aspect of Jesus’ nature in Acts 10:38 right along with His supernatural healing power, sounding the signal that God is just as interested in helping the poor and needy with financial assistance as He is in supernaturally healing their bodies. The truth is, helping to meet the physical needs of other people is an act of “goodness” that Jesus did and still longs to do through His people.
So when the Bible tells us that one of the fruits of the Spirit is “goodness,” God is letting us know that He wants us to be selfless, using our resources to help change people’s living conditions for the better. This is absolutely contrary to the flesh, which would consume every spare dollar on itself. But when the Spirit is working mightily in us, He shifts our focus from ourselves to the needs of those who are around us.
Thus, the fruit of the Spirit called “goodness” is that supernatural urge in a person to reach beyond himself to meet the natural needs of those around him. When a believer is walking in the Spirit, his eyes are supernaturally opened to see the needs of humanity, and his heart is moved to meet those needs. This is why there is no greater benefactor or philanthropist than a person who is filled with the Spirit and who is producing the fruit of the Spirit in his or her life!
The word “faith” is the Greek word pistis, which is the common New Testament word for faith. However, in this verse it conveys the idea of a person who is faithful, reliable, loyal, and steadfast. It pictures a person who is devoted, trustworthy, dependable, dedicated, constant, and unwavering. This, of course, is contrary to the flesh, which seeks to be lazy, uncommitted, undependable, and completely unreliable.
When Paul wrote to Timothy and told him how to choose leaders, he urged Timothy to choose “faithful” men. This is also the word pistis, which tells us that it is mandatory for this fruit of the Spirit to be found in leaders. In fact, it is also used by Paul in First Corinthians 4:2, where Paul writes, “Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.” That last phrase could be translated, “…It is required…that a man be found devoted, trustworthy, dependable, dedicated, constant, and unwavering.”
This “faith” or “faithfulness” is so esteemed by God that it is listed in First Corinthians 13:13, where Paul writes, “And now abideth faith, hope, charity.…” This fruit of the Spirit is a part of the eternal nature of God. The Bible stresses that God is faithful (First Corinthians 1:9) and utterly dependable. Numbers 23:19 (NIV) says, “God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind.” Jesus Himself is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).
If this unchanging, constant, stable, unwavering behavior is the nature of God Himself, it shouldn’t surprise us that when His Spirit is allowed to freely work in our lives, He makes us faithful and steadfast, just like God. God is faithful; therefore, we should expect faithfulness to grow in our lives as one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit.
Does the Holy Spirit have enough freedom to produce “goodness” and “faithfulness” in your life today? Are you selfish and self-seeking, consuming every spare dollar on yourself and never showing concern for the needs of those around you? Do others know you as someone who is unstable, undependable, and unreliable? If the answer is yes to either of these latter questions, doesn’t this indicate that you aren’t allowing the Holy Spirit to do His work in you? If He truly had the freedom to operate in your life, the fruits of “goodness” and “faithfulness” would be evident in you. Don’t you agree?
My Prayer for Today
Lord, I want You to work so mightily in me that “goodness” and “faithfulness” become an integral part of my life. Please forgive me for the times I’ve been flesh-bound and insensitive to the human needs that are all around me. I have walked right past people with serious needs; yet I haven’t even noticed. I am convicted by this, Lord, and I’m asking You to help me shift my focus from myself to those who are around me. I also ask You to help me become so faithful that people will know they can depend on me!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for Today
I confess that I am sensitive to the human needs of those who are around me. In addition to believing for my own needs to be met, I also believe for the financial resources to help meet the needs of others. Just as Jesus was a blessing in His generation, I am a blessing in my generation. I am stable, unwavering, and consistent in every area of my life, reflecting the life and character of Jesus Christ in all that I do!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Questions to Answer
1. How long has it been since you gave sacrificially to help people who are poor and needy? Are you even aware of the needs of the poor and needy in your neighborhood, city, or world?
2. What can you do right now to start “doing good” to people near you who have serious basic needs? Can you give them an offering, take them to the grocery store, or fill up their car with gas? What would Jesus do?
3. Do you have a reputation with other people of being dependable, reliable, and trustworthy?