Goodness

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INTRODUCTION:

Story of Rob and I at breakfast

He was testing me to see if I was a good man, my heart matched my life. He was testing me to see if the goodness of God dwelled within me.

This morning, I want to talk about the sixth fruit of the Spirit, goodness.

 

Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT) Read Out Loud

22 The Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control.

 

Last week we talked about kindness – how did you live out kindness recently?

When you think of a genuinely good person, who comes to mind? What is it about that person that makes you think about them being genuinely good?

But how many times have we been disappointed by someone when we find out that they were not really a genuinely good person?

Goodness is something much deeper than the surface appearance of being nice, a warm smile, and a put together appearance.

Movement 1:

The word in the Greek that we get the word goodness from is agaqwsunh (agathosune)

Definition of goodness: agaqwsunh (agathosune):

Uprightness in both HEART and LIFE (integrity).  Inherently good.

Goodness in the Old Testament:

Used primarily to describe the goodness of GOD (Psalm 31:19, 69:16, 109:21).

How great is your goodness, stored up for

those who love you. Psalm 31.19

Goodness in the New Testament:

Used primarily to describe the goodness of PEOPLE (Galatians 5:22; Ephesians 5:9; 2 Thessalonians 1:11; 2 Peter 1:5).

For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true. Ephesians 5:9 (NLT)

 

The difference between the Old Testament and the New Testament is the pouring out of the Holy Spirit into the believer’s life that empowers goodness/integrity in both heart and life.  If you desire integrity in your heart and life . . . ask for the Holy Spirit to do His sanctifying work in you.

There is a frustration gap in our society. A Gallop Poll indicated that our society has “incongruent values and lifestyles”:  what we say and what we seek are two totally different things.  There is incongruence between heart and life.

For example.  The average person says that materialism is not important to them and yet they seek a lot of different things. Just walk into a mall or shopping center and see the goods people are buying. Then go to Goodwill or Salvation Army or a dump and see all of the items people have tossed to the side.

Parent’s say, “I want to spend a lot of time with my child.” but they don’t.

Most couples say, “we want to have intimate conversations with each other”, but they don’t.

The business person says, “I want to always be honest”, but he/she isn’t.

An ambitious salesman delivered his company’s bid to an engineering firm.  The project director left for a few minutes.  The salesperson could not help but notice their chief competitor’s bid lying on top of the desk with all the figures in plain view except for the total amount, which happened to be covered by a can of Coke.  He knew that he should not take unfair advantage by sneaking a look at the total bid.  On the other hand, a multi-million-dollar contract was at stake for the company, not to mention several thousand dollars of personal commission.  He felt hot and flushed as the battle raged in his heart.  Since no one was around, he lifted the Coke for a peek.  Thousands of tiny ball bearings instantly spilled out of the bottomless can all over the desk and onto the concrete floor.

George Gallop found a gap between what we say and what we seek.  This gap between heart and life, between what we say and what we seek, is not new.  Paul experienced it:

17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[a] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. -Romans 7.17-18

You may be frustrated as Paul was–what you know is right, and what you do, are not the same thing.  You want to do right . . . but it doesn’t come out that way.  So sometimes we begin to fix the blame rather than fix the problem:

Dr. Hobart Mowrer, Professor at Harvard and Yale, one-time President of American Psychological Association, quoted in American Psychologist the psychiatric folk song of Anna Russell:

At three I had a feeling of ambivalence toward my brothers,

              And so it follows naturally, I poisoned all my lovers.

              But now I’m happy I have learned, the lesson this has taught,

              That everything I do that’s wrong, is someone else’s FAULT.

When faced with our shortcomings we can go through life blaming others or our past for the way we are today.  My past may explain why I am the way I am, but it does not excuse it, because you and I both have a choice today.  We can turn to God’s Holy Spirit and ask Him to do his powerful, graceful, transforming work in us.

Plato, the Greek philosopher (428-348 BC), wrote:  You can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the DARK; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the LIGHT.

Let’s run to the light on this matter of integrity.  Jesus is the light and His Spirit can wed what is in our hearts with what we do in our lives.  His fruit in our lives is integrity.  Integrity is the foundation for every relationship in life.  It is the foundation for a good marriage, it is the foundation for a good business, it is what makes you a good neighbor.  Integrity is key.

Movement 2:

When we think of good, we think of bad.  Good cop/bad cop.

Often the focus is on the bad and to not be bad, the negative rather than on being good, the positive.

When you were growing up or perhaps in raising children there were instances that you recall these scenarios:

I am going to the store – don’t leave this house, don’t have anyone over, don’t raid the snack drawer, and don’t do anything you aren’t supposed to do.

When you are at school today, don’t mess around and talk in class, don’t dilly dally after school to get on the bus, and don’t even think about skipping class with your friends.

At church today – don’t be loud, listen to your teacher, don’t hit other kids, and whatever you do, do not pick your nose.

I am sure many of us have been on the receiving or directing end of those and scenarios like them. But in each case, there is a focus on a negative, on the bad.

But when we focus on the good – and the One who is Good – a shift occurs. This shift brings to light an awareness of who we are in heart and not just in behavior. It shifts the focus to our heart driving our actions, on our integrity.

When that shift occurs, a few things happen…

The Presence of Integrity Brings:

  1. PROTECTION – less fear:

May integrity and uprightness PROTECT me, because my hope is in you.

-Psalm 25.21

  1. SECURITY – greater confidence:

The man of integrity walks SECURELY.

-Proverbs 10.9

  1. GUIDANCE – better decisions:

The integrity of the upright GUIDES them.

-Proverbs 11.3

FEARLESS, CONFIDENT, DECISIVE . . . these are traits that everyone wants and they come from integrity.

The Absence of Integrity Brings:

Steven Berglas, a psychologist at Harvard Medical School and author of The Success Syndrome, says that people who achieve great heights but lack the bedrock character of integrity to sustain them through the stress are headed for disaster.  He believes they are destined for one or more of the four A’s:

  1. A­­RROGANCE
  2. The pain of ALONENESS
  3. ADVENTURE – seeking
  4. ADULTERY

 

Movement 3:

INTEGRITY ESSENTIALS:

  1. Speak HONESTLY (Ephesians 4:15; Proverbs 20:7).

Speak the truth in a spirit of love.

-Ephesians 4:15

Mark Twain once said:  Speaking honestly is better, it takes a lot of stress out of our lives.  If you tell the truth, you don’t have to REMEMBER anything.

Now we need to make sure that when we speak honestly it is always done in a spirit of love.  Haven’t we known people who speak honestly, but it is not done in a spirit of love.  What they say is true but it is not clothed in love or kindness. 

The righteous man leads a blameless life; blessed are his children after him.

[or as the Living Bible paraphrases…] It is a wonderful heritage to have an honest father.

-Proverbs 20:7 (LB)

I think that many Fathers get deluded into thinking that their kids might be impressed with their accomplishments.  It is the character of the father that molds children . . .not what the father has accomplished.  It is integrity, it is the fruit of the Spirit that molds a family.

I want to say something to parent’s that are here.  If the world never knows you and you never work in a respected profession; if you never own a business or get near the top of the corporate ladder; if you never accomplish big things in the eyes of the world… but you have loved your kids and demonstrated the fruit of integrity, you have given your kids everything.  It is a sad day, if in going up the perceived success ladder; we sacrifice even a ounce of our integrity.

  1. Confess REGULARLY (James 5.16; Matthew 5.23,24).

Admit your faults to one another and pray for each other.

-James 5:16

There is a principal in forgiveness that we seldom talk about.  It is called restitution:  if I have wronged someone, I need to go to that person and confess it to them.

  1. Live CONSISTENTLY (Matthew 6:1)

Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them.

-Matthew 6:1

I need to be the same at home as I am when I am here.  If I am to be a man of integrity, then those who are closest to me will love and respect me the most.  When those who are closest to you respect you the least, then there may be a problem with integrity. Integrity means that our heart and life are consistent.

  1. Commit BOLDLY (Matthew 5:37; Psalm 101:2; Isaiah 45:19).

Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes.’

-Matthew 5:37

Commit boldly to the things you say you will do.  One of the most remarkable stories of integrity that I have heard in the last couple years concerns a man called Robertson McQuilken.  As a young man, he dreamed of becoming the president of Columbia Bible College in Columbia, South Carolina.  He adored his father, who had held this position, and he aspired to someday take his father’s place.

Robertson McQuilken’s dream came true.  He served as president of Columbia Bible College for a number of years and did so with distinction.  He lead Columbia to become a premier Christian institution that has prepared hundreds of young people for service, both in the United States and overseas.

Then one day this very special man realized he had a tragedy on his hands.  His wife began to show the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.  This was no slow-moving case, and in a matter of months there were dramatic consequences.  She not only lost the memory of much of their life together, but she was unable to even recognize him.  She lost all awareness that he was her husband.  Robertson McQuilken made his decision.  He resigned the presidency of Columbia so he could give full-time care to his wife.  Without hesitation, he walked away from what he loved as an act of love for her.

There were realists who told him there was no point to what he was doing.  Anybody could take care of his poor wife, they told him, but not anybody could be president of Columbia Bible College.  And after all, she didn’t even recognize him when he came into the room to help her.  The man’s answer was magnificent.  He readily admitted that his wife didn’t know who he was.  But that wasn’t the point, he told them.

The really important thing is that I still know who she is

she is the woman to whom I promised to be there for ‘UNTIL DEATH DO US PART’.”                          

Boldly stand by your commitments.  If there was any trait that our society needs today is men and women, employees, business associates, husbands and wives, friends, mothers and fathers that will boldly stand by their commitments.

 

Conclusion:

Goodness – It is the very essence of God’s nature— His righteousness and holiness.

Too often, we focus on the exterior, the outward life, and we forget about the heart, the part that is hidden. We focus on modifying the behavior instead of nurturing the heart – the inner life.

The thought of God as good and the prominence given to “good” and “goodness” are distinctive features of the Bible. In our text in this series from Galatians 5:22, “goodness” is one of the fruits of the indwelling Spirit of God, and in that from Ephesians 5:9 it is described as being, along with righteousness and truth, “the fruit of the light” of Christ. We are reminded that the Christian life in its truth is likeness to God, the source and perfection of all good. 2 Thessalonians 1:11 regards God Himself as expressing His goodness in and through us. 

And….he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do, what God is looking for in men and women. It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love, and walk humbly with our God. (Micah 6:8)

To the extent that we have God’s goodness, we have godliness or God-likeness.

Response:

Speak Honestly, Confess Regularly, Live Consistently, Commit Boldly

Will you take a stand today?  Will you decide that from this point on . . . you will be upright in both heart and life?  Will you stand up today and make that commitment?  The ability to carry through with your commitment starts with your commitment to place this area where you are falling short into his hands.  Ask God’s Holy Spirit to come in and cleanse your life and fill you with His presence so His fruit can grow out of your life.  Will you take your stand today?

 

 

Benediction:

Remember, Lord, your great mercy and love, for they are from of old. Do not remember the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember me, for you, Lord, are good. For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him.  And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people… “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

 

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.

Romans 12:9 

 

This is what the Lord says: Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’

Jeremiah 6:16 | NIV 

 

Who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

Titus 2:14 | NIV 

 

Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 1 Peter 3:13 | NIV 

 

Psalm 23:6 ESV  Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Psalm 31:19 ESV / 154 helpful votes

Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the children of mankind!

Psalm 27:13 ESV / 74 helpful votes  I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living!

Romans 12:9 ESV / 99 helpful votes  Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.

Fruitology: Elements of a Transformed Life
Fruitology: Elements of a Transformed Life
Fruitology: Elements of a Transformed Life

Goodness