“Goodness.” It’s a strange term in our culture, isn’t it? It has so many uses.
Sometimes, it’s a substitute swear word: “Oh, my goodness.”
Sometimes, it’s an exclamation: “Goodness, me!”
Sometimes, it’s a character trait.
For a lot of people, “goodness” is what characterizes everybody: “He’s such a good person”, or “We all have inherent goodness.”
And there is some truth to that: all human beings are made in God’s image, and there is a certain goodness that comes with that. The challenge with that is that our inherent goodness is badly stained by sin.
I once heard the late renowned theologian and apologist, R.C. Sproul, offer what I thought was the best answer to the question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?”
His response? “There are no good people.”
Not very encouraging, eh? But he was right.
The apostle Paul, in writing to the church in Rome in the first century, said, “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard” (Romans 3.23, NLT).
In other words, the goodness in us is tainted by the reality of our sin, our inability to measure up to God’s perfect standard.
Thankfully, God also gave a solution to our problem: Jesus. As Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, “For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ” (2 Corinthians 5.21, NLT).
This means that when we place our faith in Jesus, receiving his death and resurrection as being for us, personally, we receive the righteousness of Jesus by faith. So when God looks on people of faith, he sees only the righteousness – the goodness – of Jesus.
That’s why we can bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit – a fruit that includes goodness. It’s not something that comes from within us; it’s something that is borne through us by God the Holy Spirit, who lives in all followers of Jesus.
And for that, on this Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada, we can be thankful.