Fruit of the Spirit // GOODNESS

by Jenny Stricklin

Goodness is perhaps one of the most misunderstood virtues of Christianity. Not because we don’t know what goodness is. But because we are confused on the order in which it is produced.

Is it goodness before grace? Or grace before goodness?

Many equate goodness with salvation, earning them eternal life. “I’m a good person so I deserve heaven.” And while that may bring momentary comfort, it’s actually quite exhausting. Even damning. Because we can’t bear the weight of moralism. We aren’t perfect keepers of the law. And God knew we never would be.

In his kindness, He gave the law not for perfect keeping but to reflect our brokenness. To expose our need for a savior. To lead us to Himself. (Gal. 3:24-26)

This is why Paul says again and again, “Salvation comes by grace through faith. It is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.” (Eph. 2:8)

So the Gospel reveals that we aren’t good enough. And that’s actually good news! Because there’s a solution. Jesus is good enough for us. Our faith in the finished work of Christ is what saves.


When we put our faith in Jesus, the Spirit of God quickens the spirit in us and we’re awakened! This faith, if genuine, doesn’t keep quiet in our hearts and minds. It moves out of us through our actions into good works. It doesn’t just sit in the pew and ponder God, it gets out in the street and shows Him to others!

This is why James questions believers, “What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone?” (James 2:14)

So while good works don’t earn salvation, they do express and establish it. In fact, this faith-in-action is the way we see God’s power activated in our lives. Lest we think this goodness only benefits others, when we act in faith, we get the thrill of watching God come through for us.

Maybe you’ve seen this power unleashed in your life as you:

  • Gave generously not knowing exactly how the ends would meet.
  • Opened your home to others, despite fear of inadequacy.
  • Sought peace in spite of disagreement.
  • Chose to forgive instead of harboring bitterness.
  • Stepped out in obedience without having all the answers.
  • Served a neighbor in the name of Jesus.

Faith is how we enter the kingdom of heaven for all of eternity. But faith-in-action (good works) is how we experience the kingdom of heaven right here on earth. And oh, how we need His kingdom to come!

It will rarely be easy. But this isn’t a work of our own doing. It is prompted and powered by the Spirit inside of us. This is where the physical world merges with the spiritual one. Where God’s supernatural power is seen in the natural world. The Bible is full of these stories. And our lives can be too.

If we are in Christ, God has prepared good works for us to do (Eph. 2:10). Will we step into them today?

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