As a child, I loved the image that my mind conjured whenever I heard lessons or sermons on the Fruit of the Spirit. I was always able to form a vivid mental picture of a bowl overflowing with fresh produce or branches bursting with ripened fruits. Assigning actual fruits to the Holy Spirit’s characteristics that should feed our lives became a poignant metaphor. Simple and childish as that may seem, for me, having an image to manipulate created a stronger connection to the verse and the depths of its meaning.
In a literal sense, and on the surface of my fruit metaphor, Goodness seems like it might be the easiest characteristic to interpret. ‘Good’ fruit is harvested, used, transformed and shared, while ‘bad’ fruit is simply avoided or discarded. This seems rather straightforward; we simply choose right versus wrong and we will achieve goodness.
As an adult, parent and more exposed Christian I know it is not that simple. Goodness is a true reflection of God’s character. When we strive to be good, it goes far beyond simply following rules or doing what is considered right. In goodness, we are called to do things God’s way. Maybe that requires confronting someone who works against goodness in your life or the life of those you love. Perhaps, just as we throw out inedible fruit, goodness can even mean having to separate from those who tempt us to act in an ungodly way – out of fear or malice or retribution.
Personally, I strive for a balance – one where I am constantly pruning, both the good and bad, fruit in my bowl or orchard. I take time to nurture the healthy aspects of my life so that I am an example of Christ and His love. I am cutting away the bruised areas so God and the people He has placed in my life may continue to see and use my good. Goodness should be more than just the decision between right and wrong for all of us; we should want to use the fruit of goodness inside of us to tempt others to draw nearer to God. Like the aroma of freshly baked apple pie draws family into the kitchen, may your goodness permeate all aspects of your life so that those around you feel His presence.