Goodness Topical Study

<p><strong><span class="heading-lg">Goodness in Scripture</span></strong></p><ul><li><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy"><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Exodus 33:19</a>, &quot;I will make all my goodness pass before you, and will proclaim before you the name&quot;</span></span></span></li><li><span style="font-size: 16px;"><span class="body-copy"><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Nehemiah 9:25</a>, &quot;Even in their own kingdom, and in the great goodness you bestowed on them. . .&quot;</span></span></span></li><li><span style="font-size: 16px;"><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Psalm 23:6</a>, &quot;Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,and I shall dwell in the house of the </span>L<span class="small-caps">ord</span> <span class="body-copy">my whole life long.&quot;</span></span></li><li><span style="font-size: 16px;"><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Mark 10:17-18</a>, Jesus says that only God is good</span></span></li><li><span style="font-size: 16px;"><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Galatians 5:22-23</a>, the fruit of the spirit</span></span></li><li><span style="font-size: 16px;"><span class="body-copy"><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Titus 3:3-5</a>, God&#39;s goodness and loving kindness saved us</span></span></span></li></ul><p><span style="font-size: 16px;"><span class="body-copy"><span class="body-copy"><span class="body-copy">We can observe from&nbsp;above that in scripture, God is goodness personified even as the blessings that come from this God constitute material and moral goodness (God&#39;s &quot;goodness&quot; in Canaan was seen in concrete blessings like milk, honey, clean water, good wine). The universe is like a multi-tiered fountain with the goodness of God overflowing down to God&#39;s people on earth and from them onto still others. Furthermore, in the New Testament this blessed goodness of God is frequently equated with God&#39;s whole reason for launching salvation in Christ in the first place. &quot;Goodness&quot; is sometimes synecdoche for the constellation of God&#39;s grace/mercy/compassion/lovingkindness that allowed God to love us and so save us even &quot;while we were yet sinners.&quot;</span></span></span></span></p><p><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><strong><span class="heading-lg">Reflections about Goodness</span></strong></span></p><p><span style="font-size: 16px;"><span class="body-copy">As a fruit of the Spirit, goodness is never the achievement of the individual believer. The Greek world attached huge value to arête, to &quot;excellence&quot; and this excellence clung to the great Greek heroes like a badge of honor. Arête was something a person earned through personal valor and courage. But although arête occurs all over the place in secular Greek literature (cf. Homer), the word crops up almost not at all in the New Testament (the Greek agathosune is more common for &quot;goodness&quot;). Where arête is broached (as in 2 Peter 1:3-5) it is connected singularly to Christ. This Christian form of goodness/arête is clearly not a human achievement but a divine gift through participation in Christ. &quot;His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness [arête]. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness [arête].&quot;</span></span></p><p><span style="font-size: 16px;"><span class="body-copy">Goodness for the Christian, then, is God&#39;s grace and mercy flowing through us to others. A good person is a Godly person; the goodness of such a person&#39;s actions do not stand apart from God but are of a piece with God. Even our ability to assess something as good (or someone as being full of goodness) depends on our being in touch with God as the standard against which all else is measured.</span> </span></p><p><span style="font-size: 16px;"><span class="body-copy"><span class="body-copy">Philosophically, preachers and others in the church may be aware of the debate &mdash; that has raged since the Enlightenment and that has been taken up in more recent times by deep thinkers like Nicholas Wolterstorff and Charles Taylor &mdash; about whether we can be good without God. Can humans build a concept of goodness &mdash; and come to a consensus on what counts as moral goodness &mdash; without reference to God? Some Christian thinkers conclude that we cannot be good without God and that if any moral system does succeed at targeting what constitutes goodness and good behavior, that system relies on a residue of knowledge of God whether the architects of the system wish to acknowledge that indebtedness or not. Some even conclude that to remove God from the picture means there is no &quot;bottom line,&quot; no sure way to ensure human dignity once and for all.</span></span> </span></p><p><span style="font-size: 16px;"><span class="body-copy"><span class="body-copy">Preachers do well to keep the solid connection between goodness (as a fruit of the Spirit) and the Triune God because otherwise sermons on goodness are liable to slip into the moralism of making it sound as though goodness is of human manufacture and that it is, in fact, a Christian&#39;s success in generating lots of good behavior that garners the favor of God in the first place. But this reduces God to Santa Claus (it&#39;s all about who&#39;s naughty or nice &quot;so be good for goodness sake&quot;). Instead we recall C.S. Lewis: &quot;[The Christian] does not think God will love us because we are good but that God will make us good because he loves us&quot;. </span><span class="body-copy-sm">(C.S. Lewis,&nbsp;<em>Mere Christianity</em>,&nbsp;New York: Collier Books 1960, p. 64.)</span></span></span></p>