In what way is goodness a fruit of the Holy Spirit?
The "fruit of the Spirit" describes characteristics we could never have without the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. Goodness is certainly one of them. The Greek word agathosune doesn't just refer to an attitude or a motivation, but a lifestyle characterized by virtue and helpfulness.
To be filled with goodness is to live a life of doing good things for others (Matthew 7:17-18; Luke 6:45). "Good" here has the taste of righteousness in it. To do a good deed is to treat others justly and also to endorse virtue.
Luke 10:42: It is righteous and beneficial to spend time with Jesus and learn from Him. When Mary chose to sit and listen to Jesus instead of helping Martha in the kitchen, she was commended for doing something good.
Luke 19:17: It is good to be faithful with the blessings God has given us. Being a faithful steward is called "good."
Luke 6:27: When wronged, we still do good to those who wrong us; we do not seek revenge or return in kind. Just as a cup of water will spill water when bumped, a believer who is filled with the Spirit will spill goodness when jostled.
We cannot be good on our own. Goodness is defined by God, and, as Jesus said, "No one is good except God alone" (Mark 10:18b).
Romans 7:18-19: Goodness cannot come from human effort. Even Paul, a Pharisee of the strictest order, could not force every part of his person to embody goodness.
Romans 12:21: Goodness will overcome evil. Our expressions of goodness can diminish or negate the effects of evil in the world. As the Spirit produces the fruit of goodness in us, we become "salt" and "light" (Matthew 5:13-14).
Ephesians 2:10: Our good works were ordained by God. The natural extension of faith in Christ is good works in Christ's name.
Philippians 1:6: God grows goodness in us, and He will not stop until we are good through and through. When we see Jesus, we will be "like Him," fully characterized by goodness (1 John 3:2).
2 Timothy 3:16-17: Studying Scripture promotes goodness within us. God inspired the Scriptures so that we can be completely equipped "for every good work."
God is good. Through the work of the Holy Spirit in us, God reproduces His goodness in our hearts, and it shows in our lives. This goodness empowers us to live lives characterized by the desire to act righteously and for the practical benefit of others. As others see the work of God in us, they will "give glory to your Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 5:16).
God is good - What does that mean?
God Himself is the standard and the measure of what is good: "No one is good except God alone" (Luke 18:19). All that is in God is good: "God is light, and in him is no darkness at all" (1 John 1:5). God's nature is good and He cannot do anything that would contradict who He is. God is good and all He does is good (Psalm 119:68). He is holy, true, and faithful in all of His ways, desiring to make good out of all situations (see Genesis 50:20; Romans 8:28).
When God created the universe, each individual part that He created was good (Genesis 1:4–31; 1 Timothy 4:4). He did not create evil, because evil is the absence of all that is good. God does not get tempted to sin, nor does He tempt us to sin (James 1:13). God gave the Law to the Israelites and it was good (Romans 7:12). The only good that we have in this world is a gift from God: "Every good and perfect gift is from above" (James 1:17).
The Lord is good to us (Psalm 107:1; 145:9). He forgives us (Psalm 86:5); He heals us (Psalm 30:2; 107:19–21); He upholds us through difficult times (Isaiah 41:10). He is faithful and loving: "For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations" (Psalm 100:5).
Our response to God's goodness should be thankfulness (1 Chronicles 16:34), but our natural human inclination is toward living for ourselves, forgetting God's goodness (Psalm 78:11), and loving darkness and evil (John 3:19). The pinnacle of God's goodness is in His perfect plan for our redemption through Jesus Christ. The gospel is known as "good news" because it tells the story of God sending His Son to offer us eternal forgiveness for our sins. It is the goodness of God that leads us to repentance: "God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance" (Romans 2:4). He desires for "everyone to come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9, NIV).
As we walk with God we will begin to see His goodness operating through our lives, because goodness is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22–23). As we continue seeking Him, He continues revealing more of His goodness to us (Lamentations 3:25). Once we have tasted and seen of God's goodness for ourselves, nothing else will satisfy us (Psalm 34:8).
With so much evil in the world, how can I believe in the goodness of God?
To address God's good nature in the midst of so much pain and evil in the world, we must understand where evil came from and how it exists. God is not the author of evil. Adam and Eve thrived in the garden—a beautiful, safe place—where they could enjoy unity and communion with God. God warned them of the evil that would disrupt their world once they disobeyed Him. From the beginning, God had the knowledge of evil and tried to protect His perfect creatures from its destructive nature. However, Adam and Eve disobeyed God's protective command and allowed evil to enter into our human experience. After they sinned, they hid from God in shame and fear. The results of their disobedience were quite stark, but God showed His goodness by making a temporary cover for their sin and promising a future Messiah who would redeem mankind. He also removed them from the garden so they would not live forever in their fallen state (Genesis 3). We might be tempted to blame Adam and Eve for evil, but we all carry it with us because we "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). Unfortunately, suffering and pain is now a part of our life here on earth.
When humanity decided to listen to Satan rather than God, Satan became "ruler of this world" (John 12:31). This means that Satan has a degree of authority on earth, and Satan's objective is to cause suffering, death, and separation from God. Along with humanity's sinfulness, Satan causes much of the evil in our world. The Bible says that, "the devil prowls like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour" (1 Peter 5:8). Satan is the king of deception and desires us to believe the lie that God does not care about our suffering (John 8:44).
The truth is that God cares deeply for our pain. He is good and just and desires us to be reconciled to Him (2 Peter 3:9). We know that God is love (1 John 4:7–8), that God comforts the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18), that God desires justice for evil (Psalm 89:14), and that God will someday avenge the evil in the world with His perfect judgment (Revelation 20:13; 21:5). We can rejoice that God has a plan for the evil that destroys our world through death, sickness, and pain. The first step in God's plan to save us from evil was sending His son to conquer death.
Jesus is God's redeeming answer to Adam and Eve's disobedience. Mankind inherited sin and pain as descendants of Adam and Eve, but when we put our faith in Him, we inherit life and peace as a spiritual gift from Christ. And indeed it is a powerful gift. The Son of God appeared to destroy the work of the Devil (1 John 3:8). Jesus' message is an exact binary to the message of the Devil (John 10:10). The life and message of Christ is so important to our process of understanding that God is good in the midst of all the evil in our world. Through Christ, God shows us that He wants to redeem us from the pain we experience (Ephesians 1:7). Although we still experience evil, our burdens are lighter knowing that God desires to walk alongside us and draw us closer to Him in our struggles (Matthew 11:30).
God not only gifted us with hope and redemption from the evil that lives in our own hearts, but He also promised to bring peace when He returns and destroys evil (Romans 16:20). The suffering and trials that come with evil in the world should be expected. The apostle Peter tells us that we should not be surprised by the evil that we encounter in mankind (1 Peter 4:12). He also tells us to rejoice because we have the hope that we can entrust our suffering to God (1 Peter 4:13–14). Because we belong to a God who cares about our pain, we can rejoice that He will return and bring peace to earth (1 Peter 4:17).