“Going Nowhere Fast” (Fruit of the Spirit) Series #5-6 Kindness and Goodness

03 Mar

Fruit of the Spirit: Goodness - Good Shepherd Lutheran Church of Old Bridge, NJ

Kindness (gentleness)   Goodness (generosity)

Translations differ in the translation of the 5th virtue of the Spirit: chrestotes. It is translated gentleness in one location but in all others it is the word kindness.

It is the divine kindness out of which God acts toward men. It is what the OT means when it declares that “God is good,” as it so frequently does. The Christian is to show kindness by behaving toward others as God has behaved toward him.

Kindness and goodness are closely connected words.  For kindness the word is chrestotes.  It, too, is commonly translated goodness.  The Rheims version of 2 Corinthians 6:6 translates it sweetness.  It is a lovely word.  Plutarch says that it has a far wider place than justice.  Old wine is called chrestos, mellow.  Christ’s yoke is called chrestos (Matthew 11:30), that is, it does not chafe.  The whole idea of the word is a goodness which is kind.

The word Paul uses for goodness (agathosune) is a peculiarly Bible word and does not occur in secular Greek (Romans 15:14; Ephesians 5:9;2 Thessalonians 1:11).  It is the widest word for goodness; it is defined as “virtue equipped at every point.”

What is the difference?  Agathosune might, and could, rebuke and discipline; chrestotes can only help.  Trench says that Jesus showed agathosune when he cleansed the Temple and drove out those who were making it a bazaar; but he showed chrestotes when he was kind to the sinning woman who anointed his feet.  The Christian needs that goodness which at one and the same time can be kind and strong.

The goodness or kindness of God is not a moral holiness from which a man might shrink in fear; it is a kindness which draws men to him with cords of love. The Old Testament sees this kindness of God expressed in certain ways:

  • The kindness of God is expressed in nature. “The LORD will indeed give what is good, and our land will yield its harvest.” (Psalms 85:12) “When you give it to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are satisfied with good things.”    (Psalms 104:28) The bounty of nature is the expression of the kindness of God!
  • The kindness of God is expressed in the events of history. “May he remember all your sacrifices and accept your burnt offerings. Selah” (Psalms 20:3) “I will praise you forever for what you have done; in your name I will hope, for your name is good. I will praise you in the presence of your saints.” (Psalms 52:9) “They will celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness.” (Psalms 145)
  • The kindness of God is expressed even in the judgments of God. (Psalms 119:39) “Take away the disgrace I dread, for your laws are good.” If God’s judgments were simply morally good, then there would be nothing left but fear; but God’s judgments are kind and therein lies our hope.
  • The kindness of God is expressed in the instruction of God. (Psalms 25:8) “Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in his ways.” (Psalms 119:65-68)  “Do good to your servant according to your word, O LORD. {66} Teach me knowledge and good judgment, for I believe in your commands. {67} Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word. {68} You are good, and what you do is good; teach me your decrees.” God’s kindness is expressed in the revelation of his will and his holiness to men.
  • The kindness of God comes very specially to certain people. (Psalms 34:8) “Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.” (Psalms 145:9)  “The LORD is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.” (Nahum 1:7)  “The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him,”
  • It therefore comes as no surprise that it is the possession of this kindness which makes a man a good man, and the neglect of it brings the condemnation of God. (Psalms 13:1-3) “For the director of music. A psalm of David. How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? {2} How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me? {3} Look on me and answer, O LORD my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death;” (Psalms 36:3)  “The words of his mouth are wicked and deceitful; he has ceased to be wise and to do good.” (Psalms 52:3)  “You love evil rather than good, falsehood rather than speaking the truth. Selah” (Psalms 112:5)  “Good will come to him who is generous and lends freely, who conducts his affairs with justice.”

The New Testament speaks of the kindness and the forebearance of God (Romans 2:4), and Paul has nothing  but condemnation for the man who does not see that this kindness of God is designed to lead us to repentance. It should in fact be that very kindness of God which is the dynamic of Christian goodness.

It is because men have tasted that the Lord is kind that they should lay aside all sinful things (1 Peter 2:3).

The kindness of God must never be regarded as providing an opportunity to sin; it is a terrible thing to seek to try to trade on the kindness of God. In any event, this kindness of God in hand with it goes the severity of God (Rom. 11:22). In God there is strength and gentleness combined.

The kindness of God is a universal thing, for God is kind even to the unthankful and to the evil (Luke 6:35). The fact is that it is impossible to live in the world and to enjoy the light of the sun without experiencing the kindness of God; there is no man or woman who is not indebted to this kindness for it is universally bestowed, not according to man’s deserving,  but according to God’s graciousness in giving.

(2 Corinthians 6:6)  “in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love;”

 (Ephesians 4:32)  “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

 (Colossians 3:12)  “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”

Gentleness cares for the feelings of others and feels with them. It experiences the full depth of sympathy and empathy. It shows care and gets right into the situation with a person. Gentleness suffers with those who suffer, and struggles with those who struggle, and works with those who work.

  • God is kind.

       “But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil” (Luke 6:35).

       “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: that in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus” (Ephes. 2:4-7).

 Believers are to be kind to one another.

       “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another” (Romans 12:10).

       “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Ephes. 4:32).

       “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering” (Col. 3:12).

       “And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity “ (2 Peter 1:5-7).

 There is the fruit of goodness (agathosune): it is being full of virtue and excellence, kindness and helpfulness, peace and consideration. It means that a person is full of all good and he does all good. It means…

  • that he has a good heart and good behavior.
  • that he is good and does good.
  • that he is a quality person.

Note that a good person lives and treats everyone just as they should be treated. He does not take advantage of any person nor does he stand by and let others take advantage. He stands up and lives for what is right and good and just. This means that goodness involves discipline and rebuke, correction and instruction as well as love and care, peace and conciliation. A good person will not give license to evil, will not let evil run rampant. He will not allow evil to indulge itself and treat others unjustly. He will not allow others to suffer evil. Goodness steps forward and does what it can to stop and control evil.

 “And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another” (Romans 15:14).


What is the kindest thing someone has done for you lately? Have you tried to do something kind for someone? What is it? What do usually think about when we think about kindness? Opening the door for others. Being nice to the cashier at the store. Leaving a generous tip for the waiter. Sending a card of thanks. What do you think of when you think of kindness?

All of these are good things. Typically, kindness is equated with being polite or nice. Some years ago a movement started that called people to practice random acts of kindness. In other words, be nice and be polite. I am not sure if the goal was to make people feel better about themselves or to make the world a better place. Either way, both are good things. Now think of the fruit of the spirit, among which is kindness, and ask yourself, is kindness just being nice and polite, or is there even more to it

Kindness in scripture is more often equated with love. The word for kindness in Hebrew and Greek is interchangeable with mercy, goodness, loyalty, faithfulness, but most of all steadfast love. Kindness is the visible action of love directed toward others. God is praised for being kind – for showing his steadfast love in so many ways. There is an example in the Bible of a mortal like you and me putting the kindness of God into practice. Read from 2 Samuel 9.

There’s more in this story than politeness. Here is kindness with long lasting implications that spanned generations. What does this tell us about the character of God and the kindness of God? It shows that kindness is the fruit of the spirit that holds us together. It is love directed toward others for their sake and not just our own. Talk about life on the vine – kindness is like a ground covering vine or ivy that binds the earth so that it doesn’t erode away. It is the raw material of the social fiber.

Knowing what the kindness of God is, we can understand why it is hard to cultivate kindness in our culture. Our culture is hostile to kindness because …

  1. Our culture tolerates rude, angry, unkind, and violent behavior. No one really likes this, but they have become so commonplace that we have just accepted it. Talk shows and sports thrive on a culture of conflict in which it is more important to be tough and take no “guff” from anybody. We mentioned random acts of kindness – recall that this is a take off on the phrase random acts of violence. Maybe we crave something as refreshing as nice and polite because we have suffered enough from the RAV.
    1. Even in church it is possible to accept and tolerate crude and unkind behavior. One of the reasons we find it difficult to debate and discuss serious and controversial matters is because there has been too many occasions of attacking the person rather than the argument. One of my delights in Restoration History was being in class with a man who had lived ministry in the 20th century. When the class began discussing one well known “debating minister,” this man chuckled and told us how he had seen that minister debate many times. He described how he would turn red, sweat, call his opponents names and ridicule them. “Nobody bought the man’s argument,” said our wise classmate, “but it was a sight to see him get mad.” We all appreciated our classmate’s humor but his wisdom also reminded us that many people and many churches are hurt by such behavior.
  2. But this sort of behavior is a symptom of the deeper problem. The rude behavior we see is the product of radical independence and self-sufficiency. Why is there road rage? Because people act and drive as if they are the only ones who matter. Why do people get rude at restaurants? Because they hold their satisfaction in higher esteem than the person who waits on them. Our culture promotes radical independence and self-sufficiency.
    1. Technology has enabled us to be radically independent. Remember when phones operated on a party line? Now you and every member of your family can have your own mobile phone. Against the experience of the public concert or radio broadcast is the iPod or MP3 player which allows you to have your own personal concert with every song you can ever imagine. [Have you seen the MP3 commercial of people going about their lives stoically while their reflections enjoy their own private party?]
    2. But technology is not the cause; it is just the enabler. For many generations now we have praised the self-made man and the pioneer spirit. We have acclaimed the rugged individual who pulls himself up by his own bootstraps. We learned from Shakespeare that we should “neither a borrower or a lender be, but to thine ownself be true.” Many people in our culture assume that the old maxim “God helps those who help themselves” is really in the Bible.
    3. I love to watch when two fiercely strong-willed and independent individuals fight over who will pick up the check at a restaurant. They will even trick one another out of paying and bribe waiters and waitresses. A few even threaten the friendship if the other pays the bill. Why? Why would someone risk a friendship over an act of kindness? Well even those of us who aren’t quite in that league still understand the awkward feeling of obligation and dependence. We would rather be the giver than the recipient because receiving erodes our feeling of self-sufficiency.

Knowing the disease is the first step to taking the cure. Isn’t it wonderful when medical science affirms that something very simple might be a solution to some of the worst problems we know? Recently studies showed that blueberries have a greater effect at reducing the development of cancer than any other fruit. You can prevent cancer by eating blueberries! It is that simple.

Likewise, cultivating kindness will overcome so many of the problems we suffer from as a culture. It is that simple. If David could demonstrate the kindness of God then I believe we can too with the help of the Holy Spirit. I believe there are some ways we can begin to cultivate true kindness – the kindness of God …

  1. Start by listening to others. If kindness is love directed to others for their sake, then we need to start paying attention to others. Genuine kindness doesn’t simply give someone something they don’t really need just so the giver feels better about himself or herself. For kindness to really blossom among us we need to listen carefully to one another. Just giving our time and attention to others for their sake is kindness.
  2. Intentionally cultivate connections with others. Kindness is not a virtue that can be developed in isolation. Kindness is all about the quality of our relationships with one another. In our fragmented, self-sufficient culture we will need to intentionally create connections. This is why we have started a “Connections Ministry.” This is why we have Care Groups and LIFE Groups. They are intentional, deliberate means of forming connections. (I myself have been skeptical of the role and need for such groups and ministries. Back at Winslow we didn’t have to create groups and ministries to form connections. Then I realized that Winslow was a small group. Such ministries are just an intentional way of doing what is natural in a smaller church.)
  3. Imitate God’s loving kindness. This is what David did. This is what Paul urges us to do (Eph. 4:31-32) Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of malicious behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. [Notice the description of kindness].

 The Kind Ones: It is said that in the ancient world the early Christians were sometimes called the Kind Ones rather than Christians. This is due in part to the fact that there is just one letter of difference in the word for Christ (christos) and the word for kindness (chrēstos). People were confused about the name.

I would think that it is also due to the fact that the early church demonstrated the kind of life that would make them live up to both names. My hope is that the people of our age will also be confused as to whether we are Christians or the Kind Ones. Let us strive to live up to both names.

God is full of goodness.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23).

 “For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth” (Ephes. 5:9).

 “Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power” (2 Thes. 1:11).

 “He loveth righteousness and judgment: the earth is full of the goodness of the lord” (Psalm 33:5).

 “O taste and see that the lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him” (Psalm 34:8).

 “And I looked, and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold: therefore mine own arm brought salvation unto me; and my fury, it upheld me” (Isaiah 63:5).

 Believers are to be full of all goodness.

       “And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another” (Romans 15:14).

       “And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God” (Ephes. 3:19).

The Generous Goodness

The difficulty with the 6th virtue in the fruit of the Spirit is to define more exactly what it means. All the other eight virtues and graces are quite definite adornments of the Christian character; but the English goodness is a wide and general term.

The difficulty about the word goodness is that it takes its meaning from its context, and from the sphere in which the particular excellence described lies.

The word is used in only three other instances in the New Testament:

(Romans 15:14)  “I myself am convinced, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, complete in knowledge and competent to instruct one another.”

(Ephesians 5:9)  “(for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth)”

(2 Thessalonians 2:17)  “encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.”

“Sex is the great amateur art. The professional, male or female, is frowned on; he or she misses the whole point and spoils the show.” –David Cort

 “Today, men and women feel more pressure than ever before to be “good” at sex. We have been seduced into believing that if we are healthy, growing individuals, we will do it more, be better at it, and derive more pleasure from it. And if we don’t, we’re not just missing out, we’re seen as cold, uptight, repressed and inadequate…. We are victims of sexual misinformation overload. Millions of Americans are secretly on a sexuality treadmill, believing that sexual behavior is a measure of self-esteem rather than a source of pleasure and/or expression of loving feelings.” –Dr. Melvin Kinder

The Sexual Performance Rat-Race Quiz:

  1. Is the focus upon sexual performance or sexual fulfillment?
  2. Is the focus more upon someone looking sexy or being close?
  3. Is the focus upon a choreographed “dramatic event” or upon mutual desire?
  4. Do you hesitate to initiate times of love making because everything wouldn’t be “just right”?
  5. Do your times of lovemaking involve the “real you” and celebrate your closeness?
  6. When you have sex, is the goal a specific outcome or a certain expression?

 Two Competing Truths:

  1. It is the fear of being average that puts us into the sexual performance rat-race!
  2. The more importance we place on sexual performance, the worst we feel!

The Way Out—Focus Upon Expressing kindness!

Kindness: humane, having tenderness or goodness of nature; benevolent; friendly; courteous; a congenial disposition.

“Love cannot remain by itself–it has no meaning. Love has to be put into action and that action is kindness” –Mother Teresa

“But the Fruit of the Spirit is Love, Joy, Peace, Patience and Kindness…” (Gal. 5:22)

The Kindness (steadfast love) of God:

The word for the kindness of God in the Old Testament is Hesed. This word occurs over 200 times, and conveys a sense of absolute loyalty and a willingness to love (see Jonah 4:2, Psm. 103, 136).

Kindness = Love + Integrity.

 When It Comes To Sexual Performance, Kindness Is…

The force which allows us to be patient. (SoS. 3:6-11)

“Love is patient, love is kind, it is not self-seeking…” (I Cor. 13:4)

The focus  which allows us to see our partner’s beauty. (SoS. 4:1-7)

“You are all beautiful my darling, there is no flaw in you!” (SoS. 4:7)

The faithfulness which makes a relationship safe. (SoS. 4:8)

“And the God of all grace will himself make you strong, firm and steadfast.” (I Pet. 5:11)

The fire that flames a passion based in purity. (SoS. 4:9-12)

“You are a garden locked up, my sister, my bride; you are a spring enclosed, a sealed fountain.”

The fuel behind the joy of committed love (SoS. 4:13-16)

“Always try to be kind to one another, and to everyone else.” (I Thess. 5:15)

The fondness that comes from having a true life partner. (SoS. 5:1)

“I am my lovers and my lover is mine; he browses among the lilies.” (SoS. 6:3)

The freedom that comes from God to “Enjoy!” (SoS. 5:1)

“Eat, O friends, and drink; drink your fill, O lovers”

“And the man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.” (Gen. 2:25)

 The Secret: Practice random acts of kindness!

What determines the value of something? A child may think that a quarter is worth more than a dollar bill because the quarter is shiny & pretty, or that a candy bar is worth more than a handful of dollar bills because it wants the candy more. So what really determines value?

Again, we all have things that we consider valuable. If our house caught fire, one of the first things we would try to save would be a box of family pictures, for they’re valuable to us. But they wouldn’t be to you. So how do you determine the value of something

 During the past few weeks, as we have looked at Galatians 5:22 & considered the fruit of the Spirit, we have talked about some very valuable fruit, like love & joy & peace & patience.

But what about goodness? I’m afraid that people just don’t seem to be very committed to the idea of goodness anymore. While love & joy & peace step to the plate & hit homeruns, goodness does its best just to get a single. To many, goodness is just not considered important or even desirable today.


One of our problems with goodness is the same problem we have with love. The word “good” is used in so many ways, just as we use the word “love.” We love our children, we love apple pie, & we love a beautiful sunset, but each of these “loves” are entirely different.

It’s the same with the word “good.” We say, “I had a good meal,” or “I met a good person,” or “We had a good cry.” They’re different, aren’t they?

So let’s look at how the word “good” is used in the Bible. For instance, we read in the opening chapters of Genesis that God created the heavens & the earth, & then He created life in the sea & in the air & on the ground. After each creation, God looked at it & said, “It is good.” What does that mean?

Well, I guess it means that when God looked at what He had done, He was pleased with it. So maybe we could say, “Goodness means something that pleases God.” Or maybe we could go a step further & say, “A good person is a person who is pleasing to God.”

The Bible also tells us that “God is good.” Now what makes God good? Well, God is pure, God is holy, God is forgiving, God is generous. So therefore, if we’re good people, then all those characteristics would be true of us, too.

Let me give you another definition of goodness. It is a pretty simple definition. But if you’ll remember it, I think you’ll begin to see the value of goodness. “Goodness is doing the right thing for the right reason.”

SUM. Now I suppose we could do the right thing for the wrong reason. I suppose that we could even do the wrong thing for the right reason. But “goodness is doing the right thing for the right reason.”


During the past few weeks we have been reminded again & again that our model, our example, is Jesus. When you want perfect love, look at Jesus. When you want joy & peace, look at Jesus. And the same is true of goodness.

Now don’t make the mistake of thinking that being good came naturally for Jesus. He lived in the flesh just as we live in the flesh. And Satan tempted Him over & over again.

Turn with me to the 4th chapter of the Gospel of Luke, & let’s look at one of the times that Satan tempted Jesus. There are 3 temptations here. The first is the temptation of selfishness. The second is the temptation of compromise. And the third is the temptation of popularity. And Satan is still using those same temptations on us, even today.

 Listen to Luke 4:3-4, “The devil said to Him, `If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.’ Jesus answered, `It is written: `Man does not live on bread alone.’’” Now here is the age-old struggle between selfishness & love. It started in the Garden of Eden & it continues today.

Today’s culture tells us that as long as we have food & nice clothing, as long as we live in a nice home & have a good automobile, & are able to live in comfort, then we are a success & ought to be proud of ourselves.

But here is Satan, trying to get Jesus to focus on Himself. He tempts Jesus to turn the stones into bread. Now you must understand that Satan always tempts us in our area of weakness, & Jesus had been fasting for 40 days. He was extremely hungry, & it would have been so easy for Him to have used His power to do what Satan suggested.

Now do you understand what Satan was trying to do? If he could just get Jesus to be concerned about satisfying His own needs, of making things easy for Himself, of taking the easy way out, then Jesus would never be willing to pray, “Not my will, but thine be done.”

And He certainly would not have been willing to pay the price for your sins & for mine. He would never have gone to the cross for us. If Jesus were concerned first about His own needs, then He would never have gotten around to being concerned about us.

But Jesus, because He had come to do the will of His Father, knew that the most important thing was not Himself, but us. So He says, “It is written, `Man does not live on bread alone.’” He did the right thing for the right reason.

Now the second temptation was a temptation to compromise. Luke 4:5-7 says, “The devil led Him up to a high place & showed Him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to Him, `I will give you all their authority & splendor, for it has been given to me, & I can give it to anyone I want to. So if you worship me, it will all be yours.’” Boy, what a temptation!

ILL. You know, every week people line up by the thousands to buy lottery tickets, fantasizing about buying new houses, & new cars, & taking exotic vacations, & doing all the things that they couldn’t do otherwise.

“Here it is, Jesus,” Satan says, “I have control over the people of this world. They’re serving me. So let’s make a deal. Don’t set your standards so high. Just compromise with me, & all this can be yours.”

APPL. Is Satan using that same temptation on you? Are you playing fast & loose with the truth, cutting corners, compromising with that which you know to be wrong? All this just so you can get more & more?

I don’t think there is anything wrong with material things. God gave them to us. But who is really the owner of the things that we have? Is God the owner, or am I? If God is the owner, & He’s just loaning all of this to me, then my responsibility is to be a good steward of it, & to make sure that God is exalted by the way I use it.

Jesus did the right thing. Vs. 8 says, “Jesus answered, `It is written: `Worship the Lord you God & serve Him only.’’” So He did the right thing for the right reason.

The third temptation is the temptation of popularity. Vs’s 9-11 say, “The devil led Him to Jerusalem & had Him stand on the highest point of the temple. `If you are the Son of God,’ he said, `throw yourself down from here. For it is written: `He will command His angels concerning you to guard you carefully; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’’”

 Here is Satan taking scripture out of context, & he does it very well. He is tempting Jesus to do something spectacular to amaze the crowds & show them His power. Why bother spending 3 1/2 years walking back & forth through the land, accompanied by just a few Galileans as His disciples?

If Jesus would do something marvelous like throwing Himself down from the top of the temple in Jerusalem before the leaders of Israel, & then have God’s angels swoop down & catch Him like in “Angels in the Outfield,” everyone would eagerly follow Him

Then if He would do it again every once in a while, people would come from far & near to see it & praise Him. He would instantly become the most popular man in all Israel! It would be so easy for Jesus to do, & then the people would follow Him anywhere!

 This was the temptation that Satan brought to Jesus. And it wasn’t the last time. He did it again as Jesus hung on the cross. Listen to the people crying out, “Jesus, if you’re really the Messiah, come down from the cross & save yourself. Then we’ll believe in you. Show us that you’re really the Son of God. And we’ll follow you.”

What a big temptation that must have been because Jesus could have done it. He could have saved Himself. But He could not have saved Himself & us, too.

Jesus said to Satan in vs. 12, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.” And vs. 13 says, “When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left Him until an opportune time.”

 But Satan didn’t stay away long. He kept on tempting Him. Don’t ever think that it was easy for Jesus to be good. He had to deliberately do the right things for the right reasons.

SUM. Some churches are constantly being tempted to focus on more & more spectacular services because they want to be popular. But the right thing to do is to focus on Jesus as our Savior & our Lord.


In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus talks about a good tree & a bad tree. He says that the “good tree produces good fruit, but a bad tree produces bad fruit” [Matthew 7:17]. And He says, “The good tree cannot produce bad fruit, & the bad tree cannot produce good fruit.”

Then He says, “If the good tree does not produce good fruit, we cut it down & throw it into the fire.” He ends it by saying, “By their fruit you will recognize them.”

So the question is, “What kind of fruit are we producing?” And as you look at the fruit, do you see goodness? Is it there? Well, here are 4 ways to display goodness.

#1, we can display God’s goodness by being forgiving. Listen to Matthew 6:14-15, “If you forgive men when they sin against you, you heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

Now those are frightening verses, because they say that if I’m not forgiving, then I cannot be forgiven. If I go around holding grudges, then I won’t receive the forgiveness of God because it is blocked by my unforgiving spirit.

The second step is purity. We can display goodness by being morally pure. Now that is counter-cultural because our culture embraces impurity, & is constantly telling us that everybody is doing it.

APPL. Have you noticed how we’ve shifted, even in the last few years?

ILL. Remember Gary Hart? He ran for president in the 1980’s, but withdrew his candidacy when it was revealed that he had an extra-marital affair. It was pretty much certain in the 1980’s that we would not vote for a candidate who engaged in extra-marital affairs. But recently Gary Hart said that our nation has matured, & now we freely elect candidates who have had extra-marital affairs.

 ILL. Dolly Parton has said that “Marital unfaithfulness is okay as long as no one gets hurt. Raquel Welch says, “Men have sexual flings, & it’s okay. Just expect it.”

 So the first step is to do the right thing for the right reason & to become forgiving as God is forgiving.

But the Bible doesn’t say that. And if you’re going to be a good person, you are to be a pure person, keeping your life pure before the Lord.

The third way we display goodness is through graciousness. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says that when we are in Christ, we’re a new creation. Now why are we new? We’re new because God has changed us.

ILL. Robert Keller writes, “It is the good person, the gracious soul, the generous heart who helps the down-trodden.” So the gracious person is one who has a heart of compassion. He looks around & sees others who are suffering & need his help. So wherever he can reach out & help them, he does.

Now, others may never know. You’ve performed good acts & no one every knew that you did them, right? You may have never heard a “thank you.” But here’s the promise, when you’re gracious & good to others, one day you will hear the voice of God Himself, “Well done, good & faithful servant.” And that’s all the recognition we need.

Finally, we express goodness through generosity. 1 John 3:1 says, “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us.” It is so much love that we cannot even receive it all. God is a giving God. “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.” And He gives & He gives & He gives some more.

So in turn, then, if we are to participate in the goodness of God we need to become generous, too. But that’s a touchy subject, isn’t it? Shouldn’t we give cheerfully? Shouldn’t we give because God has given us so much? Shouldn’t we give just because we love to give to God?

 Someone has said, “You never look more like God than when you are giving.” Don’t give out of guilt. Don’t give out of obligation. Give because it’s the right thing to do.


Open with the text and story about the Rich Young Ruler (Matthew 19:16-30; Mark 10:17-31; Luke 18:18-30)

 What do we know about goodness?

God is distinctly good. Jesus asks and affirms, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone.” What is Jesus saying about the source of goodness? There is a distinct, unique goodness about God. The goodness of God is total – 100%; not a degree of goodness or the highest grade possible. It is the source of goodness. We regard God as uniquely good not only because of his character, but also because of ours …

 Goodness does not characterize our sinful condition. – We are discouraged when it comes to our sinful condition. Perhaps this is why we want to resist acknowledging it. The disciples are discouraged when Jesus tells them that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. (Camels are big. And no the eye of needle isn’t a small gate. That explanation comes from a 5th century commentary, not history.

Jesus would say today that it is easier to shove a cow through a keyhole.) The point is that on own it is impossible to attain the distinct goodness of God. Romans 7:18-21, I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me.

 Yet, we have potential for good. We have some capacity for good and we cannot deny that since we were created in the image of the good God. Paul very truthfully and accurately described our sinful condition, but he also truthfully and accurately states that we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. – Ephesians 2:10. We believe that enough that we let this word shape our identity (notice the banner). So how do we reconcile this conflict between our sinful nature and the calling of God to do good works? Is it fair of God to expect us to do good works when we are corrupted by the sinful nature? It is if we accept that

 We depend on God’s Spirit to cultivate goodness.

  (2 Peter 1:3-4) His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

  (Romans 8:9) You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.

 Why is it difficult to cultivate goodness?
Our culture (that includes us) has tamed goodness. Strawberries seem so common and natural to us, but that hasn’t always been the case. Before they were tamed, strawberries were considered quite the unusual and exotic fruit. 800 years ago, many Europeans considered the strawberry unfit for human consumption. It was a wild berry that grew in the woods and many considered that it grew among the serpents and toads and was thus contaminated. On a rare occasion an explorer or poet would describe the wonderful sweetness of the rare and dangerous strawberry. But in time, the strawberry was tamed and cultivated. In the 1700’s a Swedish botanist ate nothing but strawberries for a year to prove they were indeed quite edible.

We have tamed goodness so that we don’t think it is anything all that special. Tamed goodness is common and not too exotic. If you want to be a good person, then just don’t do anything bad. Like the rich ruler, if we keep the commandments, which means not breaking the law, then we consider ourselves good people. We have exchanged goodness for mediocrity.

 We have confused the goal of goodness. Goodness is so much a virtue as it is a quality of life. We want to live the good life and we want goof things out of life. In our culture goodness is often equated with 1) feeling good. There’s a lot of effort put into the goal of feeling good. Even in church people may critique worship or fellowship based on whether or not they feel good. Of course we can do better than this. And sometime we recognize a higher goal for goodness. We strive to 2) do good. We rightly recognize that there are good works that we ought to do. And this may lead us to organize programs so that more people will do more good works. And yet we are sometimes frustrated when all of our efforts to do good fall short or we find that people lose interest in doing good. It’s at moments like these, if we are attentive, that we recognize that the goal of goodness is 3) being good. People who are striving to be good will do good. And people who are striving to be good do not get distracted trying to simply feel good. In fact, being good may make you feel good – but sometimes being good does not feel good. But if we strive to cultivate goodness, then we know that being good is a higher goal than feeling good. Think of this: If I am feeling good, I am not necessarily becoming more like God, but the more a Strive to be good the more I become like God.

 Ways of Cultivating Goodness

Confession of sin and weakness. This is difficult, but so very important. Until we name the sin that prevents us from cultivating goodness, we will never mature. Ignoring the sin and weakness in our life keeps us from growing in God’s Spirit. We have tamed goodness, but we have also tamed sin. We dismiss the poisonous nature of sin by saying things like “Well everyone sins.” True, but that is why it is so bad. We shouldn’t dismiss sin, but name it. And naming it doesn’t make it worse, it actually opens us up to healing from a source outside ourselves.

 Attention to God’s Word. That source from outside is God’s word. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 – All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. In preaching, reading, and study the word of God is more than just information. It is a truth from outside ourselves that has the power to transform. Preaching is worship because we attend to what God is saying to us. You and I. I hope that in the sermon you hear what God is saying to you so that you will respond. I don’t preach to say what I want, my hope and prayer is that you will hear what God wants you to hear from his word. And that you will respond through confession and repentance. Why? So you can be good. So that you will be equipped for good works.

 Imitation of mature disciples. We need role models. Paul was bold enough o tell the Corinthian disciples to imitate him because he was imitating Christ. When Paul’s disciple, Titus was trying to build up the church on Crete he had his work cut out for him. Crete was a cesspool of morals. Paul advised Titus to build up mature leaders, men and women, who could model the goodness of the Christian life. Imitation is important to our life together. I call upon the older men and women of this church, the mature disciples, to model goodness and the other fruit of the spirit. Be willing to let younger disciples learn from you. Direct them to Christ through your life. Spend time with them. You say, “But I am not perfect.” Great! Show them how to confess their sins and attend to God’s word. I call upon younger disciples to ask the mature disciples to teach you. Tell them you need their wisdom and time. Invite them to become your mentors.

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Posted by on March 3, 2022 in Fruit of Spirit


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