God is good! He is the only One who is really good, through and through. But God says in Galatians 5:22-23 that the fruit of the Spirit is goodness, so that means that with God’s help we can also be good. But what does it really mean to be good?

Goodness is defined by the Webster dictionary as the quality or state of being morally good or having excellence.

Synonyms for goodness: character, decency, honesty, integrity, morality, righteousness, rightness, uprightness, virtue, virtuousness

Lots of great qualities, huh? Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to develop the fruit of goodness in us and our children!

The following article on goodness is reprinted with permission of Minnesota Association of Christian Home Educators and the author, Kris Hage. It originally appeared in the Fall 2019 issue of The Paper MACHE (now called Homeschool Now Minnesota). Visit MACHE.org.

Character Corner GOODNESS

By Kris Hage

Oh, my goodness, how fast the summer has gone!

Good times!

Have a good day!

Good grief!

Be a good girl, for goodness’ sake!

Good job!

What a good boy you are!

Have a good one!

I’m good—you’re good—we’re all good!

We sure like to use the word “good” a lot, often without thinking about what it really means! Is it slightly obvious which fruit of the Spirit we are going to work on now that autumn is here? Very good—it’s GOODNESS!

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Galatians 5:22-23

Our standard for what is good and what is not good is GOD and what he has told us in his Word, the Bible. People who do not know God, either borrow from the Christian worldview for their standard—murder is bad but loving one another is good—or they do what is right or good in their own eyes (Judges 17:6, 21:25).

In the area of godly character, goodness is that which is right, sound and beneficial; without significant fault or defect; virtuous; proper; favorable to happiness[1].

Goodness and kindness really go best together (see the July 20, 2021 blog on kindness). If we show kindness without goodness, we may be too tolerant of sin. If we show goodness without kindness, we may be legalistic or harsh. These two qualities in the fruit of the Spirit are best developed together[2].

God gave us the greatest example of goodness when he sent the Lord Jesus to take your punishment and mine for all our wickedness. He not only saved us from that punishment which we deserved (that’s his mercy), but he gives us his own righteousness and makes us new creatures, his very own children, when we put our faith in him (that’s his grace).

We must be careful as we do all we can to make our children “be good” and “do what’s right” that they understand they can never be good enough in their own efforts to be accepted by God. Our good works can never earn approval from him (Isaiah 64:6)[3]. It’s only by faith in Jesus Christ that we can come into God’s holy presence because then we are clothed in HIS GOODNESS (Isaiah 61:10)!

We are saved BY grace FOR good works. Our good works are the result of being “in Christ Jesus,” i.e. the fruit of God’s Spirit.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:8-10 ESV).

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works (Titus 2:11-14 ESV).

Exploring God’s Word

Children sing “God is so good”[4] and that is so important for them to know! Here are some Bible verses to read with your children to learn this great truth (helping your readers look the verses up themselves is a great way for them to learn their way around the Scriptures): 1 Chronicles 16:34; Psalm 34:8, 100:4-5, 119:68, 145:9; John 10:11-15; James 1:17.

Romans 8:28-29 tell us that the ultimate good God brings to us is to make us like his Son, Jesus!

In Matthew 5:16, Jesus commands us to let our light shine through our good works as a witness to others of his love in our lives, so they will give glory to God. An amazing lady named Tabitha did this—read her story in Acts 9:36-41. Noah was also an incredible example of obeying God and doing what is right—see Genesis 6:8-9, 22. And Hebrews 13:16 is a great reminder that doing good and sharing with others is very pleasing to God.

Putting It Into Practice

  • You can make a fun game out of the verses listed in Exploring God’s Word. Play the classic Bible game[5] Sword Drill. Have each child hold a closed Bible above his or her head. Dad or Mom calls out the first reference, then says, “Swords ready…Go!” and the children try to be the first one to find and read the verse out loud. (If you have an only child, make the clock the thing to beat.) You may give a prize to the winner, if you wish, but everyone gets the benefit of knowing his or her way around the Bible better and of hearing God’s Word. “So then faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God” Romans 10:17.
  • Using watercolors, tempera paints, markers or crayons have your child paint a rainbow. This is a great reminder of Noah’s obedience to God in doing what was good and right. It’s also a great opportunity to teach your children the order of colors in the visible light spectrum. Use this acronym if you have trouble remembering: ROY-G-BIV (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet).
  • For your artists, print off this mini-book about God’s goodness
  • In Ephesians 6:10-18, God gives us a practical example from the Roman soldier’s armor of using the spiritual armor he gives each believer to live a life that pleases him. The breastplate of righteousness reminds us that God is the one who gives us the power to do what is good and right by his Holy Spirit. You may use paper grocery bags, your favorite Pinterest post of the “Armor of God” with the soldier’s armor pieces, or Chapter 1 of Growing the Fruit of the Spirit (see Resource List) for your child to make his own soldier.

[1]Kristyn Hage, Character Companion for the Miller Family Series (Mifflin, PA: Green Pastures Press, 2013) 19.

[2] Kris Cox and Kris Hage, Growing the Fruit of the Spirit (Kindle Direct Publishing, 2019) 164.

[3]We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. Isaiah 64:6

[4]See Wee Sing Bible Songs by Pamela Beall and Susan Nipp (www.weesing.com)

Download a free lesson on goodness from Growing the Fruit of the Spirit, A Guide to Family Bible Time by Kris Cox & Kris Hage.

Interested in purchasing Growing the Fruit of the Spirit to use with your family?

I’d love to hear any suggestions you have for how to help your children grow in the area of goodness… please share in the comment section.