The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5: 19-23 – NIV)
Goodness is like kindness, a word defined by its root. It is the quality of being good. Good meaning “of a favorable character or tendency.” Then there is a whole list of synonyms that includes such words as
bountiful, fertile, handsome, attractive, suitable, fit, profitable, advantageous, agreeable, pleasant, salutary, wholesome, amusing, clever, considerable, full, well-founded, cogent, true, honorable, adequate, satisfactory, choice, discriminating…
Whoa! How in the world are we to fulfill all these qualities? Look at all the things goodness calls us to be. And we simply cannot be all these things.
Romans 12: 10 As it is written:
“There is no one righteous, not even one;
11 there is no one who understands;
there is no one who seeks God.
12 All have turned away,
they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good,
not even one.”
Check out Psalm 14:1-3, Psalm 53:1-3, and Ecclesiastes 7:20.
But God fixed this for us. He gave us the Holy Spirit as guide, director, and companion. If we listen to the Paraclete, we can exhibit those qualities as they are needed by those around us. This is not of ourselves. We have ample evidence that we are insufficient when it comes to goodness. All that is good comes from God. We are privileged that sometimes it comes through us. Not from us, but from God through us.
As I have gotten older, I have a noise in my ears. It sounds like the constant buzz of the cicada on a summer evening, except there is no pause in the buzz. When I’m in a group of people with several conversations going on in the room, it is difficult to hear the person who is speaking to me. It all becomes one conglomerate noise. In order to converse, I must see my companion face to face. I see as much as hear what he/she is saying.
Goodness requires that we listen to the Holy Spirit and move in obedience to His prompting. It assumes we know His voice and can recognize it above the cacophony of the world around us. If we are to recognize that voice amidst the din, we must have spent time with Him. Quiet time, intimate time. We must be so familiar with that voice that it is immediately obvious when He is speaking.
Then and only then can we be come a conduit of God’s grace to others.
Help us to learn to hear the voice of the Paraclete. Still our hearts and teach us your love. Help us to be instantaneously obedient to Your voice that we might be channels of Your love to this hurting world.
In Jesus’ most precious name.