The Goodness of GodWe have started on a trek aimed at answering one simple question:
What of God’s nature allows Him to be worthy of not just a place of prominence in our lives but to be first and foremost in our lives?
We begin by honestly examining the fruits of the Spirit; which God Himself most certainly possesses.
Separately we have looked at that fruit of the Spirit known as “kindness,” and we came to understand how it is a heart-felt condition that wells up deeply within God’s heart and is poured out into the lives of others in the form of action known as “goodness.”
“Goodness” is the fruit of the Spirit we’ll explore today.
Definition: “Goodness is an active expression of benevolence toward others as produced by the Holy Spirit. It is a love that motivates someone to serve others and help human need. Goodness is similar to kindness, but is the act of good works.
"Goodness does manifest itself in the gentle correction of others for their ultimate benefit. Contrary to demonstrating goodness is to do evil or harm.” (YouVersion)
Last week it was difficult to discuss kindness without at least mentioning its resulting goodness. This week, it will be difficult to unpack goodness without at least mentioning its source and companion fruit, kindness.
It has been established that David was far from a perfect man. The errors in judgment that he made not only ruined and even ended the lives of other people, but they were motivated out of lust for power, flesh and wealth - the commodities of this world. Despite this harsh and ugly reality, he never allowed his human nature and his related errors in judgment to dissuade him or convince him that God was not worth pursuing with his whole heart. He did not allow his sins to convince him that God was no longer in pursuit of him. There is much that the believer and non-believer alike can learn from the good and the bad examples provided in the life of King David and the relationship he had with God; a relationship God always pursued on a very personal level.
After all, loving is the one who can say to the younger, "please don't do as I have done, don't learn by fighting and losing the same battles I have," while wise is the one who responds, "okay."
The point being people haven't changed much over the years, their clothes have but what's underneath? Not so much. Fortunately neither has God, His word or His desire to meet us where we are in our errors in an effort to restore us.
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16, NKJV)
No one likes to get it wrong. It can be humbling, humiliating and embarrassing to be corrected or to be shown our wrongful action. It reminds us of how fallible and flawed we are in our human nature. No one likes a public display and subsequent confirmation of how far we can stray from our own assigned values of right and wrong; let alone the will of God in the pursuit of those things which bring us pleasure or help us to avoid pain. The worst of it is not when we are shown our errors and sin, but when we knew better at the time we strayed, and feel the twinge of conviction as the truth comes to light.
So it was when the Prophet Nathan confronted David about the truth regarding his transgression with Bathsheba. Being confronted sparked a bold and angry reaction from David regarding the clear injustice reflected in the scenario articulated; a clear condemnation from God.
My Grandpa was a farmer of mostly corn and beans. There was one year early in his life when he raised eight head of beef cattle. Being soft hearted he made a tremendous mistake when he gave them all names and formed a close personal attachment to each one. Clearly I can’t blame him, what with their big brown eyes, long eyelashes, the silvery fuzz on the end of their noses...very cute.
When it came time to “harvest” his herd and send them off to market, I can still hear his voice in my ears, “Fella, it just about made me sick…I couldn’t eat meat for a month.” As people we form attachment to our animals. Maybe it is because of the loving dependence we see in their eyes, their desire to be near us, there's no one or right reason. In this way, consider the following illustration from scripture:
“Then the Lord sent Nathan to David. And he came to him, and said to him, ‘There were two men in one city, one rich and the other poor. The rich man had exceedingly many flocks and herds. But the poor man had nothing, except one little ewe lamb which he had bought and nourished; and it grew up together with him and with his children. It ate of his own food and drank from his own cup and lay in his bosom; and it was like a daughter to him. And a traveler came to the rich man, who refused to take from his own flock and from his own herd to prepare one for the wayfaring man who had come to him; but he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.
So David’s anger was greatly aroused against the man, and he said to Nathan, ‘As the Lord lives, the man who has done this shall surely die! And he shall restore fourfold for the lamb, because he did this thing and because he had no pity.’
Then Nathan said to David, ‘You are that man!” (2 Samuel 12:1-8, NKJV)
A great and powerful rebuke on behalf of God to David, a man after God’s own heart. David, who had reflected the same to Jonathan’s son, and who had fallen far from God who had given Him kingship over Israel, over Judah and would have given him so much more! (Read 2 Samuel 12:8)
After this great assault David responds the only way a man after God’s own heart could respond, not justifying his actions or becoming defensive. “So David said to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the Lord.” (2 Samuel 12:13, NKJV)
We can imagine his shoulders slumping as his lungs deflate, his eyes glassy while cast upon the ground. His mind echoing back to what he used to be, who he thought he was and all that he would become for the absolute glory of God! All that, now, is lost, gone. The shine has departed the silver, now tarnished and dark. The two most important opinions in the world are against him…God’s and his own.
Now what? After all, David said it himself, “As the Lord lives, the man who has done this shall surely die!” (2 Samuel 12:5, NKJV)
Goodness Out of Kindness
“Simon Peter said to him, ‘Lord, where are You going?’ Jesus answered him, ‘Where I am going you cannot follow Me now, but you shall follow me afterward.’
Peter said to Him, ‘Lord, why can I not follow You now? I will lay down my life for Your sake.’ Jesus answered him, ‘Will you lay down your life for My sake? Most assuredly, I say to you, the rooster shall not crow till you have denied Me three times.’” (John 13:36-38, NKJV)
Later it reads: “And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. Now that disciple was known to the high priest, and went with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest. But Peter stood at the door outside. Then the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to her who kept the door and brought Peter in. Then the servant girl who kept the door said to Peter, ‘You are not also one of this Man’s disciples, are you?’
He said, ‘I am not.’ Now the servants and officers who had made a fire of coals stood there, for it was cold, and they warmed themselves. And Peter stood with them and warmed himself.” (John 18:15-18, NKJV)
“Now Simon Peter stood and warmed himself. Therefore they said to him, ‘You are not also one of His disciples, are you?’ He denied it and said, ‘I am not!’
One of the servants of the high priest, a relative of him whose ear Peter cut off, said, ‘Did I not see you in the garden with Him?’ Peter then denied again, and immediately a rooster crowed.” (John 18:23-26, NKJV)
A dark day had just dawned in Peter’s life. So sure he was in his own ability to stand up under the weight this world could and would bring to bear upon the shoulders of those who followed Jesus. Peter was wrong, overestimating his own abilities.
We can imagine Peter’s physical strength drain and his stature as a burly and boisterous man fade as he comes to know how right Jesus was in knowing how wrong he, Peter, could be?
But all was not lost. Not in the life of David nor in the life of Peter. With God it never is - for His goodness prevails from the wellspring of kindness in His heart for one and for all. “And Nathan said to David, ‘The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die.” (2 Samuel 12:13, NKJV)
How absolutely and how quickly did God take the necessary steps to reconcile David back to Himself; to extend His hand of mercy, love and grace…goodness out of kindness; restoration out of tragedy.
“So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?’ He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.’ He said to Him, ‘Feed my lambs.’
He said to him again a second time, ‘Simon, son of Jonah, do you love me?’ He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.’ He said to him, ‘Tend my sheep.’
He said to him a third time, ‘Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me? Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, ‘Do you love Me?’ And he said to Him, ‘Lord, You know all things! You know that I love You.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed My sheep.
Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.’ This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, ‘Follow Me.’” (John 21:15-19, NKJV)
Still Relevant Today
The goodness of the Lord, flowing out of a heart filled with kindness. It is a fact that He whom David served and sought out; He with whom Peter lived three years of his life, is the God in Whom we find all hope and upon Whom we cast all concerns.
He makes allowances for our mistakes and has supplied the means for our returning to Him by repentance through Christ and Christ alone. The inclusive nature of God’s goodness is that it is available to all people regardless of their financial standing, their background, their language, their gender, their profession, their nationality or race along with many other ways in which we subdivide or categorize ourselves and others.
On the cross of Golgotha we find the ultimate expression of God’s goodness. Nail scarred, bloodied, and dying while living and fulfilling His purpose; conquering death on our behalf at God’s behest. There our Heavenly Father experienced a great pain as the earth shook and the veil was torn asunder. God’s pain was filled with resolute righteousness and perfect sacrifice; a pain that paled in comparison to spending eternity without you and without me.
On the cross at Golgotha we find the fulfillment of His promise to Abraham; we find the birthing pains of hope and restoration. Ears inclined toward all of mankind if they would but call upon the name of Jesus Christ and believe in His Lordship.
In this present age all shall have the opportunity to accept His Son as THE atoning sacrifice, to call upon Him as Lord, Master and Friend. Through the One to Whom each can confess, each can repent and each can lovingly, by the power and strength of His Spirit alone, follow…the One who supplies salvation; a man of sorrows. (Read Isaiah 53:3)
“See from His head, His hands, His feet; sorrow and love flow mingled down; did ever such love and sorrow meet? Or thorns compose, so rich a crown?” (“The Wonderful Cross,” Michael W. Smith, 2002)
This is the goodness of God.