Updated: Feb 1
The sixth aspect of the (financial-) fruitfulness which is evidence of the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives is ‘goodness.’
“…And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.” (Genesis 1:31) During the creation, the Lord expressed his pleasure at the goodness of what He had brought into being. The Hebrew word used is ‘tov’ … this is anything that produces, sustains and multiplies life. This is the purpose of creation and our purpose also – to being forth goodness. His fundamental goodness forms the fundament of our lives and can create life from even the darkest of moments.
Our Jewish friends often wish us well, saying ‘mazzeltov!’ In secular terms this means ‘good luck’, but the original meaning of ‘mazzel’ is ‘dripping down.’ They are actually saying, “may the goodness of God drip down onto you.”
When a rich, young leader came to Jesus to inquire about the conditions for eternal life, he addressed Jesus as “Good Master.” Quite a normal way of addressing a respected teacher, you would say. Jesus relied, however, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.” (Luke 18:19) Jesus immediately sets the standard for goodness. The rich, young ruler argued his claim by saying how well he had kept the commandments, but actually ran straight into a brick wall. He was proud at keeping some commandments, but failed to realise he had violated the second – ‘you shall have no other gods but Me.’ In fact, mammon was his god and money his greatest problem.
The only way to live ‘good’ is to allow the only One who is good to create this goodness in you, through His Spirit. As the Holy Spirit works in our lives, our character changes, and the goodness produced will help life to flourish. Goodness is not a quality we can manufacture on our own. James 1:17 says, "Every good thing given, and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights." This certainly includes a life characterized by goodness. In letting the Holy Spirit control us, we are blessed with the fruit of goodness. As others see our good works, they will praise our Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:16).
The word in Greek which Luke used to describe Jesus’s word for ‘good,’ and also which Paul used to describe our aspect of the fruit of the Spirit is ‘agathos.’ This goodness is not merely a virtue of character, but actions which produce, sustain and multiply life – it is for the benefit of others.
‘Agathos’ was a word which was not used in everyday Greek, it is a special term coined by believers as a way to express a kind of goodness that was deeper than anything the world experienced.
Here are four ‘tests’ to see if your work is ‘good’- ‘tov’ or ‘agathos’
‘Agathos’ work is prepared for us by God. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10) For this reason, living out ‘goodness’ always starts with prayer – asking God to show us which works He has prepared for us to carry out. These works will always reflect the uniqueness of our character and His purpose for our lives.
- Am I praying for revelation of what God has prepared for me to do?
- Am I praying about which financial goals should I set and how I should allocate the money I have under my control?
‘Agathos’ work is always excellent because it comes forth out of Gods ability to work in us and through us. It is said of Jesus, that the people were “astonished beyond measure, saying, ‘He has done all things well.’” (Mark 7:37)
- Does how I work reflect Gods excellence? Can people say of what I do – “well done, that’s great!”
- Is my financial administration in good order?
‘Agathos’ work has the right motive – to serve God first and foremost and then to love our neighbour.
- Are the decisions I take out of love for God and the people around me?
- Do I choose God and people above financial goals?
‘Agathos’ work is productive. This means to use the resources I have been given to produce something which people find useful for themselves.
- Is my work useful for people, or my employer or customers, to effectively achieve their goals?
- Am I using my money to help people flourish?
Next time – Word #6 ‘faithfulness.’