From food to people, from taste to character – “good” is used to describe many different things, so, when reading about goodness in the bible, I’d always align it with the definitions I use for good – like being a “good girl”. I end up seeking approval from anyone and everyone, hoping they would think – “She is a good person”. Goodness, to me, was an opinion of others, not something that existed in my character. I was wrong though – biblical goodness is much more than a state of being and it’s not at all found in the opinion of others.
Goodness: In man is not a mere passive quality, but the deliberate preference of right to wrong, the firm and persistent resistance of all moral evil, and the choosing and following of all moral good.
Greek for Goodness – Agathosune
Let us first take a look at how the greek word for goodness, Agathosune, is used to explain what the bible means. Agathosune, describes active goodness, virtue and excellence. It’s an uprightness of the heart and our life. It’s more than an excellence of character, but character energized, expressing itself in active good. This kind of goodness is only found in believers and only as a result of the working of the Holy Spirit in the lives of those who submit to His divine will and power.
We are to be good for the benefit of others, not good simply for the sake of being virtuous. It’s generosity that springs from the heart, is kind and will always take care of others through pursuit of what is useful or beneficial for them – spiritually and otherwise.
“Good Man” – Right doing flows from inward devotion to God
Goodness – Knowledge – Correction
Doing what’s right, kind and loving for others without recognition or approval is goodness. But, it goes much deeper than that. In doing good for others with genuine kindness and love – the knowledge of God’s goodness, plan and mission needs to flow from us freely.
In letting God’s goodness flow from us and living our lives to help others – correction is a big part of what we are called to do as Christians. Galatians 6:1 says ‘Even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.’ We are all on our own journey and none of us in the same place, this allows us all to restore one another – like the ‘yin and the yang’ – we are to balance each other in goodness.
To correct one another and inspire change we have to learn that goodness without knowledge is weakness and knowledge without goodness is judgmental snobbishness. Think for a minute – Have you ever been corrected by someone because you’re making foolish decisions and been so offended that changing your behavior is the furthest thing from your mind? On the other hand – Have you ever had the same experience but the goodness and kindness used by the person, challenged you to ponder your choices and take steps to make a change?
When we interact with others in correction with goodness, we have the ability to quiet the negative self talk within them and open up their minds to hope and change. By using your knowledge of God’s goodness and love toward you – you’ll be able to let your words sound a little more like a hug of “you’re not a lone” – “I’ve been there, and it’s overcome, you can too” Let your words inspire change by letting God’s goodness flow from you with genuine love for one another.
Selfish Correction Vs. Godly Correction
As a mom of three young girls, I’ve used my knowledge much much more than my goodness when it comes to correcting their behavior. Too often I’d be dishing out correction for the things that would irritate me and not a God centered correction. It always led to more frustration within me because I’d have to correct the same things over and over again. As I discover the use of goodness (Godly mission centered) with in my correction, I see a transformation within them, but most importantly – I see a change in me! I pause and ask myself – is this just a Tiffany thing or a God thing? In doing so, even if it is a Tiffany thing, I have the ability to acknowledge that to them in kindness – When their behavior goes against God’s mission – the correction that flows out is with goodness – disciplining to teach vs. disciplining to discipline.
Recent example of Goodness in Correction
My daughter was singing a song about barney getting shot for stealing a vehicle. She thought it was so funny.
Me: Do you know what you just sang about?
Daughter: NO, but isn’t it funny?
Me: No it’s not, do you know what a 45 is?
Me: It’s a gun, this song is about murdering someone
Daughter: (red faced) that’s really bad, why do people sing songs like that?
Me: probably the same reason you did, you didn’t understand what you were saying. It’s important that we understand what we are saying before the words come out, so always ask me. It’s also important that we take a stand for what is right and good, so if other are singing that song, I challenge you to tell them that it isn’t a good song and to stop. God wants you to take a stand for what is right and typically people will respect you for that. if they don’t, that’s ok, it’s their choice.
I could have just said, “that’s a horrible song, don’t sing that ever again”, but that wouldn’t have made the impact on her heart and mind like this conversation did. All of our corrections should be an act of coming along side someone and letting them to more of the talking and us less – they will uncover their heart pains and mistakes as we hold their hand in goodness and knowledge of God’s plan. Hearts are hardened if we give correction without goodness, but correction with goodness – changes lives.
“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive.