22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)
Dallas Willard, a professor of philosophy for 48 years and a renowned evangelical thinker died in May of this year. In an article in the July/August 2013 Christianity Today, his friend John Ortberg described the impact Dallas Willard’s teachings and writings have had on Christianity.
Ortberg infused the article with Willard’s answers to some questions his students and friends asked him, such as What is reality? He’d answered, “Reality is what you can count on.” Or What is pain? “Pain is what you experience when you bump into reality.”
Willard had also said, “The four great questions that humans must answer are: What is reality? What is the good life? Who is a good person? and How do you become a good person?” By those four questions (three of which contain the word “good”) you can tell that Willard thought a lot about the subject of goodness. Ortberg described a dinner with Willard at which Ortberg’s wife Nancy joined them. Dallas Willard began to speak with a tremor in his voice about the beauty and goodness of God. Ortberg noticed that his wife, not normally a crier, had tears streaming down her face.
The goodness of God is certainly a great subject. But as we have looked at the fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23 individually each month this year, we’ve seen that it is not so much the attributes of God Himself described there as the attributes He allows the Holy Spirit to impart to and through us. For the month of August we’ll be looking at goodness, not the goodness of God nor the good acts that great philanthropists do. We’ll look at the everyday goodness that is a byproduct of knowing Christ and having the Holy Spirit prompting us and enabling us—the “good works” that Ephesians 2:9-10 tells us we were foreordained to do through faith.
Dallas Willard was also very perceptive about the God-enabled human type of goodness. He once defined “beauty” as “goodness made manifest to the senses.” And when asked, What exactly does it mean to glorify God? he replied, “To glorify God means to think and act in such a way that the goodness, greatness, and beauty of God are constantly obvious to ourselves and all those around us.”
The fruit of the Spirit has also been called the graces of the Spirit. May we grow in the grace of “goodness” this month.
Join hosts Page and Cindy on Facebook where we are discussing today’s reading. Everyone is invited to join by clicking the ‘Join Group’ button. We have 600+ women reading the Bible through together! Join us and invite your friends too!