But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.
C7.1 Do Good, not evil
The next quality in the list is goodness, the word used has the basic meaning of uprightness of heart and life, doing good to others. One can not do good, in the God-given sense, unless one is right in heart. The tree has to be good first, and a person can only be good in the Bible sense when they are renewed by the Holy Spirit. Before that point they are a corrupt tree, producing evil fruit.
A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Therefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
There is one particular aspect of goodness that we shall consider.
If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.
Paul in the letter to the Romans tells the believers not to repay evil with the same, but rather good for evil. This is opposite to the natural man, but this is what God Himself did for us. Instead of repaying us with the same evil that we had shown towards Him, God did good to us by sending His dearly beloved Son to die for us.
For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
C7.2 As your Father
Jesus Himself taught this, and made it quite clear what He expected His followers to do.
Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
It is interesting to note that Jesus tells us to compare ourselves not with men, with each other, nor with any ‘church standards’ but with God the Father Himself! In point of fact, wherever we read in Scripture concerning our standard of life and behaviour, it is always with comparison to God Himself. eg I Pet. 1:16.
In the passage above we note what Jesus commands:
a) To love our enemies
b) Bless those that curse us.
c) Do good those who hate us
d) Pray for those who despitefully use and persecute us
Now none can disagree that only those who are born from above can fulfil this. To achieve this in the flesh is impossible, but new birth gives us that divine life, so that we can live as He requires, or rather as He does II Pet. 1:4. It is also true that Jesus never gave a commandment that He Himself did not do. This fruit of goodness can be seen throughout His earthly life. But we shall look specifically at the time of His passion, and consider how these things played out.
C7.3 Christ our Example
For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:
Peter in his first epistle addresses the question of suffering for the sake of Christ. Amongst other things he says that in suffering we should follow in the steps of Christ. As we read the account of Jesus’ passion there can be no doubt that He suffered like no one else, yet He did not deserve any of it. We know it was all necessary for our salvation, but the point under consideration now is how Jesus reacted when under such unjust suffering.
Peter makes it clear that in all of this Jesus did not sin, there was no guile (deceit) in His mouth, He was reproached and threatened, but He never retaliated. Of all the people that ever walked the earth Jesus more than any had just cause to do so – but He didn’t! That is our example. Our glorious Head committed Himself to the Father and did good to those around.
Let us then look at some aspects of how He dealt with certain people surrounding His passion, and see this quality shine forth.
C7.4 The man of Sorrows
Jesus, whilst God was also man, and the physical sufferings were very real to Him as they would be to any other human being. He was tempted in all points as we are, yet without sin, so it is fair to conclude that when under this extreme time of suffering He would have been under great temptation to retaliate. Yet He never did so; consider the following cases:
C7.4aJudas the traitor
What we must understand is that Judas was a chosen disciple, along with the other 11. Although Jesus chose him as one of the 12 disciples Jn.6:60, but he was the son perdition. Jesus knew all this yet He still treated him just like the others. On the evening of the last supper Jesus, before supper, rises and does the duty of a servant: He washes the disciples’ feet. Jn.13:1-11. In that passage we have Judas mentioned as being the one who wasn’t clean.
Now just think of Jesus as He washed each of His disciples’ feet. He knew each one; He knew that each would forsake Him, what was Jesus thinking as He washed? He came to Peter and Peter was his usual pre-conversion self. Then to Judas. Jesus knew what he was about to do: Judas was to become the greatest traitor the world has ever seen. He was to hand Jesus into the hands of those who sought to destroy Him, yet Jesus loved this man to the end, and blessed him whilst receiving from Judas a curse.
C7.4bMalchus – the servant of the High priest
When Judas came with the band, who were to arrest Jesus, Peter took a sword and cut the ear of Malchus off. Jesus immediately healed him, and rebuked Peter, Lk.22:50-51; Jn.18:10-11. Now what can we see here? Malchus was one of those who had come to do Jesus harm, by helping to arrest Jesus. We are not told anything else about this man other than he was the High Priest’s servant, we’re not told his attitude towards Jesus or what part he did or did not play in the conspiracy to have Jesus arrested. But he was part of the band, and the natural reaction in such a situation is to ‘have a go’ at anyone who seems involved, as Peter did! But Jesus would have none of it. He healed the man, did him good even if Malchus was part of a group that meant harm to Jesus.
And when they came unto the place which is called The skull, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand and the other on the left. And Jesus said, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And parting his garments among them, they cast lots.
The soldiers therefore, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also the coat: now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout. They said therefore one to another, Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be: that the scripture might be fulfilled, which saith, They parted my garments among them, And upon my vesture did they cast lots.
Although the Priests and Pilate gave the sentence it was left to the ordinary solider to carry out the cruel and barbaric execution. And it was for these men Jesus prayed ‘Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.’ He prayed for those who persecuted and indeed crucified Him. These men were the actual ones who were inflicting the actual pain on our Saviour, but were doing so in ignorance. And because of this Jesus prayed for them.
Many more examples form the Lord’s earthly life could be given, but the above is sufficient to make the point. Our Lord did good to those who did evil to Him. If we are born again and have His life planted in us then we too will display this quality. We will repay evil with good. Repaying evil with the same is a result of walking in the flesh. Let us walk in the Spirit and walk as He did.