There are times when the English language fails us and we need to turn to older languages for more detailed and exact definitions. After doing some research on goodness, I have decided to turn to the Greek.
In Greek 'goodness' is 'agathosune'. The Greek word translated “goodness,” agathosune, is defined as "uprightness of heart and life." Agathosune is goodness for the benefit of others, not goodness simply for the sake of being virtuous.
*Latin also gives us a wonderful word for goodness - Beneficent: doing good or causing good to be done*
You Lord are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you. Psalm 86:5
"Goodness for the benefit of others"
That sounds amazing doesn't it? Don't you wish the world was full of this type of goodness? I certainly do. Of course I realize that for us to have a world like that, I need to start with growing this quality in myself. The world will only change when those of us who live in it make the changes we want within ourselves. One person at a time, we can make the world full of God's goodness, a goodness that is for the benefit of others.
So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone
- Galatians 6:10
By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another
- John 13:35
You yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
- 1 Peter 2:5
When I was reading my Bible with the intent to learn all that I could about goodness, I came across the verse above. As I read this verse I thought, "this is perfect" until I got to that part about sacrifices. Whoa, whoa, whoa! I thought. "What does sacrifice have to do with the benefit of others?" This led me down a side-path into learning more about sacrifice before winding me back to goodness. As strange as it seemed to me at first, the path of sacrifice did in fact lead back to goodness.
The Living Sacrifice of the Body
The central idea of sacrifice is surrender to God. This is a surrendering of our innermost selves. We submit to God when we follow his commands and submit to His appointments. When we put others before ourselves we are surrendering to God's will. While this is an inner sacrifice, it is our body that is the organ of our activity. The sacrifice of will and self is shown in our deeds which we perform with our bodies. We surrender our innermost selves to God, and then perform external acts with our body. This is a form of the living sacrifice of the body.
How can we achieve these acts? Once we have submitted to God's will, we can....
Volunteer our time (tutoring, babysitting, soup kitchen)
Help someone in need (mow a lawn, change a tire, etc.)
Listen to someone who needs to talk
Be a shoulder to cry on
Spend time with the elderly
Reach out to the lonely
Simply smile and be friendly
The Sacrifice Of Praise
By Him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise unto God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks unto His name - Hebrews 13:15
Throughout scripture it is shown that one of the best sacrifices man came make to God is that of praise. Our words, and how we use them, have power. Along with our deeds, our words can reveal our character. As Christians, our lives should be a continual thank-offering of prayer and praise. One key way to offer the sacrifice of praise is to share our thanks to God with others. It can be hard to find our voice and speak of our faith and love for the Lord when we speak with others. What a shame that is. This is an area in which I personally struggle a great deal. With social anxiety it is hard for me to speak to people I do not know, or do not know well. The idea of speaking to them about my faith is terrifying. Religion is one of those "touchy" subjects of which we never know how someone will react, so we avoid speaking of it. And yet, God requires the sacrifice of praise. If we can make this sacrifice when speaking with others we share his love, and his goodness.
How can we achieve this sacrifice?
Refer to the previous list...
Spend time with the lonely AND praise God
Smile, be friendly, AND praise God
Volunteer your time AND praise God
Help someone in need AND praise God
Donate money, time, food, items AND praise God
When we do good acts, give God the credit
Are you ready to show an uprightness of heart and life by taking part in goodness for the benefit of others? Spend some time in His word and in prayer. Ask God in which ways he would like you to show goodness. Perhaps He will lead you to choose an act from the list above, or He may reveal another way personalized to you. Always seek His council and follow His guidance.
How is the Lord speaking to you on the fruit of goodness? Share in the comments!