In this sermon, part of a series on the fruit of the spirit, Pastor Neil explains what the fruit of goodness really means from a biblical perspective. Here are some excerpts:
Three of the four Gospels in the New Testament (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) tell the story of the rich young man who came running to Jesus with a spiritual question. From a human perspective, this young man had everything going for him. He was financially secure, he had a good reputation, he was well-respected, he was careful to live a morally upright life, he understood that there is a spiritual dimension to life. From all outward appearances, he was the kind of person every church would love to have as a member…
He wanted to know what he needed to do to inherit eternal life. (Mark 10:17). He wanted to know how he could be sure he was going to heaven. It is a great question, a question you neglect at your peril.
One of the things that strikes me in this story is the way this young man addresses Jesus, and the way Jesus responds to him. When he comes to Jesus, he calls Him “Good Teacher” (10:17). To which Jesus responds: “Why do you call me ‘good’? No one is good – except God alone” (10:18).
Jesus was not denying His own goodness. He was challenging this young man to think through the implications of the words he used, because words have meaning. If you affirm that Jesus is good in an ultimate sense, you are affirming that Jesus is more than just a man, more than just a good or godly man. You are affirming that Jesus is Himself God, because only God is truly and wholly good.
Not only did Jesus confront this young man to consider who He (Jesus) really is, He also exposed the young man’s misplaced confidence in his own goodness. Like so many people in the world today and throughout history, this young man mistakenly thought that living a good life was good enough to guarantee a place in heaven. But no amount of good works will get you – or anyone – to heaven. The Bible says it is by grace (and grace alone) that we are saved, through faith (which is itself a gift from God), not by good works, so that no one has any grounds for boasting (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Only God can lay claim to being truly and wholly good. Only God…
As a follower of Jesus, you are called to do good – to live a life characterized by goodness – as an expression of the change that has taken place in your heart through the power of the gospel and the gracious work of the Holy Spirit. Jesus tells us that good deeds will flow from a heart redeemed and renewed by His grace. In Luke 6:45 He says: “The good person brings good things out of the good stored up in his/her heart, and the evil person brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his/her heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”
Goodness in speech and in action flows from a heart changed by God’s grace. Having given us a new heart, what God wants for us is to “bear fruit in every good work” (Colossians 1:10). The fruit of good works gives God pleasure. In fact, it is what you and I were made for. As we have already said, we are not saved by good works. We are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. But we are saved for good works. Ephesians 2:10 says that we are “God’s workmanship” – His poiema, His handiwork, His work of art, His masterpiece, if you will – “created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
In and through Christ we were made to do good works that reflect the character of God, that demonstrate His grace and goodness and bring glory to His name. Our good deeds are not to be done to bring attention or glory to ourselves. So, remember the words of Jesus, “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16)
The fruit of goodness– Pastor Neil has a lot more to say about this topic. Please click on the link below to see and hear the sermon in its entirety.