I’m a definitions girl. I absolutely love looking up words to add to my understanding of their meaning. Even words that seem common or ones that I already know well, I always seem to gain a better or deeper understanding every time I implement this practice.
When you hear the word “goodness,” what comes to your mind? I’m guessing you understand what this words means. Here’s what I love, though. The definition I uncovered in my study surpasses the words I would have come up with on my own:
Goodness: moral excellence; virtue
Moral excellence?!?! Really? There are times when I might be able to pass for good, but excellent? That’s another story. Yet, this is what I love about the character of God and the fruit of His Spirit. These virtues are modeled in Jesus Christ in PERFECT and EXCELLENT form. Our passage for today is a bit lengthy, but it’s so full of insight into our fruit of the Spirit of goodness. I would encourage you to read it out loud.
“His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. Through these He has given us His very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 1:3-8 NIV
I couldn’t love this passage more! We are reminded in verse 3 that not only are we called to live in harmony with God’s moral character as believers in Jesus Christ, but we’ve been given everything we need to do so. No excuses. In the ESV (English Standard Version), the word “goodness” in verse 3 is translated “excellence.” The word “excellence” was used by Greek writers to sum up all desirable character qualities. Wow!
Isn’t it interesting, then, that in verse 5, goodness is the first virtue that we are instructed to add to our faith? And from there, this beautiful progression of godly virtues flows…knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, mutual affection, and love. This astounds me—that goodness is moral excellence and when goodness grows in the life of the believer, it will inevitably lead to so much more.
I want to see the Church marked by such virtue. I want to see the Church known for this beautiful progression of Christ-like character. Don’t you? Can you guess where it starts?
With you. With me.
We must look inward before we look outward. God’s Word must first serve as a mirror into our own hearts and lives before it ever is used as a magnifying glass into others. Moral excellence might seem impossible to you, but it is not impossible for the Holy Spirit to grow this within you. This is the work that He does…transforming us measure by measure, day by day, into the likeness of Jesus Christ.
A life that chooses to “partake in the divine nature” (a.k.a. abiding in Christ) will change and transform into the likeness of that divine nature, Jesus Christ. There is no other possible result. When we remain connected to Christ, when we saturate our minds with His Word, when we feast on His truth, when we prioritize His presence…we start to look more and more like Jesus.
Faith was never intended to end with our proclamation. Faith is active. It’s forward movement, and goodness, among all these other virtues, is a result of genuine, saving faith in Jesus Christ. Walk in His ways, friends, and watch this transformation occur within you.