Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 6, 1958


Jere E. Frost, Newbern, Tennessee

Among the choicest, in the floral garden of the Spirit, is the rare and wondrous fruit called goodness. And the fruit of the Spirit is as a garden, in which the fairest blossoms kiss the eye with their beauty and fill the air with their healthful, sweet fragrance. Surpassing the richness of the rose and the royalty of the orchid, which fade and wither with time, the fruit of which we speak characterizes the heart and life and gives a living hope of eternal glory to those who live and walk in the Spirit; we call them Christians.

And this goodness is active, being much more than a passive state suggestive of merely refraining from wickedness. It is translated in the New Testament (As applied to man) from two Greek terms, chrestotes and a gathosune. The former is more frequently translated kindness, and Thayer defines the latter to be moral uprightness of heart and life. Other forms of these same words are translated good, and are coupled with works to form the common expression, good works. And, as obviously implied, it is the doing of good works that constitutes the virtue of goodness and moral uprightness.

Goodness, on the one hand, is the active rendering of kindness, benevolence and needed assistance. Dorcas' works and almsdeeds were said to be good, and are an example of the point at hand. In I Timothy 5:10, good works are even more clearly shown to inhere in this kindness and benevolence of which we speak. Discussing the qualifications of widows who are to be enrolled, Paul states a general requirement, "well reported of for good works," and then 'specifies such particulars as "if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints' feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have followed every good work." There is, then, no doubt as to what was meant or what sort of good works she was to follow — Paul specified several, and ultimately encompassed "every good work" within the scope of the original statement. The beneficence and kindness of goodness cannot be overlooked.

Equally fundamental to goodness, as in the definition, is the matter of moral uprightness of heart and life. Peter spoke of good works in this very connection. (I Peter 2.) He declares the fact of a royal priesthood and peculiar people, and urges that they abstain from fleshly lusts so that the Gentiles, though "they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works ... glorify God." And just what are the good works to which reference is made? One point of it is. "Having your conversation honest among the gentiles." Moral uprightness! Other particulars were then mentioned. such as the precepts to "submit yourselves to every ordinance of man . . . for so is the will of God, that with well doing (good works) ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men!" and the paying of due honor, loving the brotherhood, of servants obeying their masters etc. This moral uprightness. of respecting and obeying divine and duly ordained civil law and of constantly doing that which is accordingly good and right, constitutes good works by which God is glorified.

But what men appraise as moral uprightness of heart and life, and esteem to be kindness differs in various countries and even within different religious groups in the same locality. What the one considers to be upright, the other disdains as corruption and sin. A mother tries to walk upright by throwing her infant child to anxious crocodiles of the rampaging Nile in conformity to her religion's laws. What she esteems as uprightness we disdain as corruption. Less dramatic, but no less actual, is the difference that exists among the religionists of so-called Christendom. What we hold as precious faith is charged by Catholics as being heretical. How can one be certain that he is upright and pure in heart and life? Who is to say? God be thanked, for we have a positive statement that settles the matter. The Scriptures do not merely set us on the way, but thoroughly, perfectly and completely furnish us unto every good work. (II Tim. 3:17.) Yes, every work and deed that makes for goodness is revealed in the word. And he is not filled with goodness, though kind and possessed of certain admirable qualities he be, whose works are not based upon and governed by the Spirit's word. Remember, goodness is not the product of human philosophy and self attainment. It is the fruit of the Spirit! And God's law reveals how to walk in the Spirit and furnishes us unto every good (agathos) work that makes up the goodness of Galatians 5:22.

Another fundamental that should be briefly considered is the relationship of goodness to error and evil. A man must purge himself in order to be "meet for the master's use and prepared unto every good work." (II Tim. 2:21.) True goodness is not, nor can it be, an odd mixture of sinful inattention to divine law and possession of a tender heart that indulges in some kindly deeds. Being upright and within the framework of law, it rids itself of unrighteousness. Another negative involved and vital to the study is the statement in I Peter 3:11a, "Let him eschew evil, and do good." Depart from and hate evil! Genuine goodness is thus kind and beneficent, upright and obedient, and abhors that which is evil while cleaving to the good.

There is a glaring need for goodness, and for that which would be affected thereby. This is a matter of individual attainment in the Spirit, and as such is reflected and manifested by the individual. It is seen in the Christian who, knowing of an unfortunate soul or needy family, actually does something to help and alleviate. Goodness is active! Purity of life marks his way, for the soul in whom goodness dwells diligently seeks after and follows duly ordained laws (both God's and man's), is upright in business and at home, speaking guilelessly and walking without reproach. Sin is opposed, but not with personal hatred and bitterness or vengeance and vindictiveness toward those who propagate error. We need Christians, men and women, like this today, in whose hearts the Spirit can be said to have a garden fair; a garden where abounds a choice fruit called goodness.