What Is Goodness?
goodness : the state or quality of being good, especially morally good or beneficial. In a sense, it's the quality of having quality. [ OE gōd (good) ]. Other words in the word-field of goodness : beneficial, gainful, useful, helpful, profitable, excellent. Moral "goodness" is grouped with words such as uprightness, virtue, benevolence, worth, value, generosity.
The Greek term in Galatians 5 is agathosune, which is from agathos : good-natured, helpful, beneficial. Another form of agathos is found together with pistos in the phrase "good and faithful" servants, in the parable of the talents.
Goodness in the Bible
- The apostle Paul prays that God will fulfil "every desire for goodness".
- God loves to take what was meant for evil and create a way for goodness to result from it.
- The psalmist praises God's goodness
You see goodness when someone is consistently seeking your good or those of another ahead of their own. Goodness is not just a matter of being good or doing good or being taught goodness -- the teaching feeds the doing, the doing feeds the being, the being enables us to grasp the teaching, which feeds into more doing and being. Jump in at any point to start the cycle.
Jesus spoke a lot about false goodness, about how many leaders of the faith are putting on Oscar-worthy performances of their own goodness in front of an audience of God or their community. (This is true for both 'moral' goodness and good-naturedness or helpfulness.) God's not impressed. And "fake it 'til you make it" doesn't make it before God. Mark Twain once wrote that it is "very wearying to be good". It takes work to be consistently good, because it's so thoroughly against our natural inclinations.