Goodness is almost a throw-away word in the modern vernacular, but goodness in the Bible is not. Also, the dictionary definition reads, “the nutritious, flavorful, or beneficial part of something.”
In addition, for people, goodness is not a natural part of our character. We are, by nature, sinners, wired to turn away from God and disobey him. A standard argument for many is that man is “basically good.” The Bible disagrees.
The Apostle Paul wrote:
“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
Goodness comes from God
Goodness is not man-made, it is God-made. Also, goodness is something that God puts into us, and that means goodness is only given to those who have put their trust and faith in His provision, His Son.
Being good does not necessarily mean that people who do good have goodness. Even those who do not believe in God, or who hate God, can be good to other people.
When we come to Biblical faith in God, we step into God’s amazing plan to transform our lives and make us a new creation. But, we are inclined to sin and resist His will, but God’s will is for us to develop goodness.
Believers do good as an act of love and appreciation
Believers are called to live a life of righteousness, to put aside the old ways and go on a new journey. Additionally, God’s Holy Spirit directs believers to do good, not as an obligation, but as an act of love and appreciation. In 1 John 4:13, the Apostle John writes:
“By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us use of His Holy Spirit.”
Goodness, therefore, is of God.
Through the Holy Spirit, we share in the nature and character of God, his Holiness. God’s goodness can not be paralleled or duplicated, only imitated. As sinners we cannot become “good” on our own power, but we can become more God-like in our behavior.
God credited Abraham with righteousness for his faith. Jesus demonstrated God’s goodness by serving people, doing good works. James says believers should be “doers of the word.”
This means to live out one’s faith. The Apostle Paul wrote:
“through love serve one another”
Believers become transformed into the likeness of Christ
People are called to obey God’s law, but a key component of that calling is the work of the Holy Spirit, transforming us into the likeness of Christ. That transformation is our being “created in Christ Jesus for good works” (Ephesians 2:10).
The goodness is not for our glory, but for the glory of God. In addition, keeping the law is not a prerequisite for being acceptable to God, because no one keeps the law. Rather, the love of the law, the willingness to be transformed, the desire to please God is the key to understanding the true meaning of goodness.
Actions show sign of inner transformation
Our actions are an outward sign of an inner transformation. But even when people honestly try to follow God in this way, there are invariably moments of failure, followed by those who would take advantage of this opportunity to call them hypocrites. Also, the desire for goodness will lead to criticism, or as the old saying goes: “no good dead goes unpunished.”
Since the time of Christ, people can also be deceived by false teachings, or fall away out of self-interest. Even 700 years before Christ, the prophet Isaiah wrote:
“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.”
Dwelling in goodness and love
One of the most recognizable references to goodness is in Psalm 23:6:
“Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”
That promise is the ultimate example of the goodness of God. Also, even when we turn away, when we disobey Him, when we intentionally sin against Him, He loves us.
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8).