Out of all the fruit of the Spirit, goodness has always confused me more than any of the others listed. I was never sure exactly why it was included, especially because it seemed like all the fruit of the Spirit are at least some form of goodness. But on closer examination, one can see that at its core, goodness is righteousness put into practice. Proverbs 2:9 says, “Then you will understand what is right and just and fair-every good path.” Goodness is all about virtue, and could be best explained as someone who actually started to live by the book of Proverbs.
An excellent example of a man who lived like this can be found in Luke 10:30-37: “Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”
In the Good Samaritan, we see many people pass by the injured man on the road, and almost all of these people were considered good, righteous people in Judea. One of the travelers was a priest, a pious man of God who most people would think of as the epitome of good; yet when he comes across the beaten man, he passes by. Similarly, a Levite also passed the unfortunate man, and he too walked around him, despite being a member of the tribe of Israel whose job was to worship God. Both of these men were considered righteous in Israel, yet their actions proved otherwise.
The only one who did stop by the road for the weary traveler was a Samaritan. In Israel at the time, few were considered more lowly than the Samaritans, and the two groups hated each other with a passion. Despite this, the Samaritan stopped what he was doing and exhibited true goodness, not only because he stopped to help the man on the side of the road, but because he also went above and beyond, even going so far as to pay for his needs.
I bring up the story of the Good Samaritan because goodness is righteousness in action, and the Samaritan truly embodied this idea. And like the Samaritan, we may not seem as “righteous” as pastors or missionaries, and simply think to leave God’s work to those more qualified. Yet this story shows that despite his low status, the Samaritan still helped someone in need and truly showed goodness. Likewise, we can make a difference despite our status, for we as Christians have the Holy Spirit in us, and that’s all the righteousness we need. As we see, goodness is as simple as acting out righteousness, whether it be by helping someone else, or choosing to do the right thing. God can use anyone for good, and we are no exception, so there is no reason why we should be waiting to live righteously. As Jesus said in the last verse of the story, “Go and do likewise.”
Jason Rosamilla (15) is on staff with CLM/TPS Chapel and a student at The Potter's School.