How do we define good?
In today’s culture, there seem to be as many definitions of good as there are people. And when we do define what is good, we don’t always do it. I know lying isn’t good and I certainly don’t like it when someone lies to me. Yet, I will straight up embellish a story I’m telling about myself so others think I am something special. I’m going to tell the truth: this is lying. When I do it, I’m not being good.
Is this what Paul was getting at in Galatians 5:22-23 when he described goodness as a fruit of the spirit?
Paul doesn’t just mean to be good, however you define it. There actually is a concrete way of knowing what is good and what isn’t. We have God’s Word to help us with this. When we read the Bible, He fills us with His truth so we can discern between good and bad, right and wrong. It isn’t up to us to decide in the moment based on how we feel. We can know for a fact what is good.
And goodness is doing good in every circumstance. Integrity might be a better word to use to describe it. It’s being the same person in all situations. Going back to my example, I know not to lie. So when I choose to embellish my story, I’m not practicing integrity. I should just tell it how it was.
Paul calls this the fruit of the Spirit, not fruits. You see, you can’t have any one fruit on its own; they don’t work in isolation. Goodness, the consistency of remaining good in every circumstance, comes when I am filled with love, joy, peace, patience, and kindness. Integrity is built on the backs of these other aspects of the fruit of the Spirit. The reverse is true as well. Patience is a lot easier to maintain when you are full of goodness.
I’m sure you are thinking what I’m thinking, “How do I stay consistent in every circumstance with all the fruit of the Spirit?” Your goodness, your consistency in being the person God wants you to be in every situation, will only come from your consistency in depending on the Spirit of God alive in you. When Jesus ascended to heaven, He left an advocate for us. The Spirit is that advocate and He is alive in us today. He makes us loving, kind, good, etc. Are you trying to be good of your own accord, or are you letting God produce all the aspects of this fruit through His Spirit alive in you?