September 24, 2023 | Doug Sauder
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“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness . . .”—Ephesians 5:8–9 (NKJV)
As we seek a deeper understanding of the character qualities God’s Spirit desires to produce in our lives, it helps to define the actual word used for them. When it comes to the quality of “goodness” that’s listed among the “fruit of the Spirit” passage in Galatians 5:22–23 as well as the passage above in Ephesians, the actual Greek word being used is agathosyne. This particular word is very interesting and deserves our deepest attention.
When a word like goodness hits our ears, we tend to automatically associate it with other qualities of the Holy Spirit such as kindness and gentleness. True, these characteristics can overlap in many instances. There’s a goodness that’s gentle and kind in its expression. But this specific type of goodness, agathosyne goodness, has a unique property that sets it apart in an important way. And perhaps the best way to demonstrate it is to demonstrate what it is not.
Imagine you’re in desperate need of help. Let’s say you’re on the highway and you get a flat tire. You pull over to the shoulder lane and it’s pouring like crazy. As you reach for your phone to call for a tow, you suddenly realize you left it behind somewhere. A person sees your dilemma, slows down, and kindly calls out how sympathetic they are for your situation. In a gentle tone, they even promise to pray for you before speeding off.
You probably wouldn’t say they were overflowing with goodness, would you? That’s because goodness required something more in that moment—you needed some practical help to make a call, get a ride, or fix your tire. That’s what God’s goodness is—active goodness that’s ready and willing to do what needs to be done in response to need.
This is what the Holy Spirit wants to produce in our lives as we continue to abide and grow in our relationship with Christ. He wants to work in such a way that we’re known as people who don’t just say all the right things without actively engaging in what’s right. Instead, we’re those whose character can be counted on to do the right thing.
Here’s what we also need to understand about this form of goodness: It will do what’s right despite the difficulties that may be involved. And by “difficulties” we’re not just taking about helping someone on the side of the road, but actually doing something unpopular like rolling up your sleeves to confront a problem that’s unhealthy and damaging lives.
This is what Jesus did when He overturned the tables of those who were using the sincere desire to worship God as a money-making enterprise. We wouldn’t normally think of Jesus turning tables as an exercise of goodness, but it certainly was when we consider the motives and spiritual stakes involved. Action had to be taken, difficult action, the active goodness of God.
To “walk as children of light,” as we’re called to do in today’s passage, is to allow the Holy Spirit’s active goodness to flow through our lives. This won’t always be convenient or popular, but it will always be right.
Pause: How would you define the type of goodness described here in your own words?
Practice: Consider when you’ve experienced this type of goodness in your own life.
Pray: Lord, I want to be a person who doesn’t just profess goodness, but who expresses goodness in every aspect of my life. Continue to create this quality in me as I continue to abide and yield to Your authority over my life. Amen.
Pastor Dan Hickling serves our online community, also known as the Calvary Chapel Online Campus. He and his wife Becky have been married for 22 years and have two children, Lauren and Danny. Both Dan and Becky have been part of the CCFL church family for 22 years and have served in full time ministry for 20 of those years.