But the fruit of the Spirit is …
Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)
The fruit of the Spirit is … goodness. This is a trait sorely missing in our world today, and in society as a whole. Every morning you open the paper it seems a new low in human decency has been reached, and a new high in evil has been unleashed on the world. Terror, random violence prevails. Common courtesy, common decency, good will and overall benevolence are in short supply.
I used to deliver a southern California newspaper (The Pasadena Star-News) that carried on a tradition of putting only good news on the front page on Christmas Day. It’s a great idea, yet one wonders if you could do that today for lack of suitable material. Of course there are still good people in the world; they just don’t seem to be currently very newsworthy.
And truly good people — philanthropists and such — are not necessarily going to be Christians. In fact, for some time now, Christians have not placed a very high regard on what I would call goodness in the material world. Christians have, as long as I can remember, had a tendency to relegate goodness to another world, and a sense of ambivalence at best, and utter distaste, at worst, toward this one.
So what would goodness look like for a marketplace Christian?
Goodness is what happens when no one is watching. Goodness is when you do the right thing just because it’s the right thing to do, even though you could have gotten away with the wrong thing, or perhaps nothing at all. Goodness is also Grace Turned Outward. It touches us, but it touches those around us, and that’s what gives it presence in the marketplace.
“Peace on earth good will toward men,” is the most frequently quoted angelic proclamation to the shepherds. But that is the ancient King James Version. All the newer translations have different meanings, and those fall into three basic camps, as follows:
Peace on earth among men of good will.
Peace on earth among those who please him.
Peace on earth among those with whom he is pleased.
I presented this conundrum to our Biblical language expert, David Roper, this morning, and will let you know what he comes up with, but in the meantime, as we wait on his good thinking, at the very least, any way you look at it, it’s a limited peace, and that peace seems to be in one way or another tied to goodness on earth. And since goodness on earth is a fruit of the Spirit in our lives, then we must be the ones most holding forth the truth of goodness in the marketplace, beginning with those closest to us. Call forth the Spirit in your life, because the world needs goodness that comes from God. Goodness that comes because we ask for it, and God, who is always ready for us, says, “As you wish.”
Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more; and to Tiny Tim, who did not die, he was a second father. He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world.
Would that they would write something similar about us.
The fruit of the Spirit is … goodness. Against such there is no law.