Be Good, For Goodness’ Sake

Did your parents ever say to you, “Be good, now, or God won’t love you”?

As an adult, you probably know that’s a lie. He loves you no matter what—even when you act “bad”. But He does highly recommend goodness. It’s the next fruit of the spirit.

I looked up the Greek reference for “good”. It meant “good”. Not much help there! Then I went to a modern language thesaurus. That was better. Lots of terms correlating to goodness, but one struck me: integrity. Integrity means being the same all the way through.

In Matthew 19, Jesus answered the rich young ruler by saying that only God is good.  I John 1:5 declares that God is light, and there is no darkness in Him at all. Sounds like integrity to me! He’s the same through and through. He is completely trustworthy. He is good.

 a good day

When God created the heavens and earth, when he separated light and darkness, when He created the animals and all living things, He declared they were all good. When He created mankind, He said it was very good. I believe since He created them from His purity—His goodness—they were inherently good. Then came the Fall. Sin entered the world and man was no longer good. Corruption began to run rampant through all creation.

The law couldn’t make mankind good. It could only point out the darkness. No matter how diligently anyone followed the law or how hard they worked, it could never make them good. The rich young ruler told Jesus he’d been following the commandments since childhood. Still not good.

Jesus makes our spirits good by uniting us with God. Our souls (mind, will, emotions) are still not good. They still lack integrity.

Goodness is like kindness. We can fake it for awhile by doing good works. We can act good. But when our motivations don’t line up with our actions, it all falls apart. Even if no one else can see our struggle or our impure motives, we know it. “What’s in it for me?” motivates most of us, and we cringe when we think about God seeing our hearts.

How can we be good? How can we have the purity of heart, the integrity that God has? In ourselves we can’t. But we can let the Spirit grow goodness in us.

garden growing

Believe me, I’m not saying we should analyze every decision and action for the motive behind it. That would be crazy-making, not to mention time-consuming. But we can build ourselves up in the Holy Spirit and allow Him to instruct us.

Have you ever known, deep inside, that something you did or said was from a pure motive and an upright heart? I remember a few times like that. The realization that I was manifesting spiritual fruit was wonderful. I admit it was also a surprise. But here how it happens:

  • Spend time with God and ask Him to show you His heart.
  • Ask Him to show you how He sees you.
  • Think of a missed opportunity when you acted with selfish motives. Don’t beat yourself up, but repent. (Simply change your mind about acting that way).
  • Ask God to help you live in integrity.

One more thing: ask Him to help you see the growth of goodness in you. It will be there!

 This is part 8 of an 11 part series on the fruit of the spirit

Next time: Faithfulness

Part 1| Fruit-Tastic!

Part 2| How Does Your Garden Grow?

Part 3| But I Can’t Even Love Myself!

Part 4| Put on a Happy Face?

Part 5| In the Eye of the Hurricane

Part 6| I Want Patience, and I Want it Now!

Part 7| Who Gets the Credit?

Part 9| A Maytag Life


all illustrations courtesy of