“Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life” Psalm 23:6
According to Vine’s Expository Dictionary, goodness is more than an internal quality; it “expresses itself through deeds with grace, tenderness, and compassion”. We see examples of displays of goodness through the acts of God. The Widow at Zarephath encountered it when she met the prophet Elijah (1 Kings 17:7-16); the Samaritan woman encountered it when she met Christ at the well (Joh 4:1-26); and Jarius encountered it when he asked Christ to heal his daughter (Mark 5:21-24, 35-43). In every situation, God met each of their needs with compassion, tenderness, grace…His goodness.
So, what about us? Though we are human, we can aspire to treat others with the goodness of God. It really is simpler than we make it out to be. We give to others with tenderness, with compassion and without expectation. We give with joy, with grace, without complaint. We give because we are here on earth to show others the goodness of God through our actions.
Goodness with tenderness: We see a perfect example of goodness in action through the relationship between Ruth and her mother-in-law Naomi. When both of their husbands die unexpectedly, Naomi urges Ruth to return to her people. Ruth refuses, pledges a vow of allegiance to her mother-in-law, and then makes sure Naomi is protected when she remarries. Ruth did not have to do this, but she chose to display goodness by tarrying with Naomi, by caring for and loving her as if she were her own mother (Book of Ruth).
Goodness with compassion: All of us have heard the story of woman who bled for twelve years. None of the doctors she went to see could help her. Then one day, she heard that Jesus was nearby. Though she was not supposed to, she ran into town, pressed through the crowd believing that she would be healed if she could touch the hem of Christ’s garment. Christ’s reacted to her touching his garment with compassion, telling her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace” (Luke 8:43-48).
Goodness without expectation: True friendship is showcased in the story of a group of men who carried their friend on a bed to Jesus to be healed. They cut a hole in the roof of the house where Jesus was teaching when they couldn’t get to him through the front door. When Christ saw the mat being lowered in front of him, he told the man that his sins had been forgiven (Luke 5:20), before proclaiming, “[G]et up. Take our bed and go to your home” (Luke 5: 24).
The love these men displayed for their ailing friend is a true example of goodness without expectation. All they sought was healing for their friend, not a blessing for themselves.
So what does goodness look like in your life? It looks like having compassion for that homeless person and giving them what they need with love; giving without expecting your generosity to be reciprocated because most of the time it will not. Goodness is doing God's work.
Join me on Wednesday, August 17th for Self-control, the final installment in my "Living the Fruit of the Spirit" blog series.