Goodness - Every Relationship Needs It
But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control against such things there is no law. (Gal. 5:22-23)
One of the joys of being a Christian is when God the Holy Spirit prompts us to do things that we would not even think to do, but they are crucial to building a great life. A great life is great relationships (Matt 22:37-39), therefore, the Christian life is really a project in building great relationships. It starts with our relationship with God provided by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and continues as we learn how to build and grow the other relationships in our life God's way in our unique context. God supplies all we need for great relationships; we just need to do the work of putting them into our lives as He prompts us.
Let's just do a little review at this point before we get into this main ingredient in strong relationships - goodness. We each have nine basic relationships: God, Self, Spouse, Family, Work, Church, Friends, Finances, and Community, as you can see by the chart below.
Each relationship is someone independent of the other relationships in your life. In other words, I can have a flourishing relationship with my children while I am not doing very well at work. Each relationship has boundaries for growing that relationship. Those boundaries could be roughly seen as the 10 commandments. Behaviors that would require me to violate the 10 commandments in a relational area are not healthy and should not be permitted. Each relationship requires a unique version of the fruit of the spirit that is appropriate for that relationship. The type of love (meeting needs, pursuing the soul, and pleasing) is different in my marriage as it is with my colleagues at work. The basic construction material in each relationship begins with the fruit of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. There are other relational building materials, but if you just used liberal amounts of these in each relationship, you would come out all right.
The sixth element in the fruit of the spirit is goodness. It is an expression of love but it is itself a unique and distinct thing. Every relationship needs it. The word goodness is the Greek word agathosune. It means to benefit another. To do for another what they do not deserve. To benefit them in some way. As we saw in our last chapter on kindness, kindness is often about doing less than a person deserves or being merciful. Goodness is like grace and we are to do more for the other person than they deserve. God has introduced us into grace where we receive far more from Him than we deserve. It is this same idea that is contained in goodness when God the Holy Spirit prompts us be good to others.
It is often true that in relationships we can fall into a tit for tat arrangement. You did this for me so I will do that for you, or I will do this for you in hopes that you will do that for me. The Holy Spirit wants to break up this type of small thinking in a relationship. He wants us to truly benefit others in ways that they don't expect. I have a friend who regularly gives waitresses a $20 tip on a $20 meal. He has received a prompting from the Lord and wants to be as extravagant with goodness to the waitress as God has been with Him. Be alert to the prompting of the Holy Spirit to benefit other people in ways that they do not deserve. Now, the Lord usually directs the real extravagance toward those closest to us. There is a regular place for over the top goodness that is undeserved. What does that look like in your marriage, with your friends, with your colleagues, with your family, at church? You don't have to invent these - just allow the Spirit of Christ to prompt you and do not push away at the ideas because they are different.
I look forward to interacting with you during your spiritual journey. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to let me know how God is working in and through your life. Your greatest life is just ahead.
In His service,
Ever wonder who Jesus Christ really is?
How does a Christian learn to follow him?
What is church really about?
How do I find God's will for my life?
Find the answers to these questions and more in Foundations: Building a Solid Christian Life. This book delves into four foundational building blocks for what it means to live the Christian life and how to interact with God through Jesus. It is perfect for personal study or as a small group study guide.