What is Goodness? It’s Not What You Think!

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The Faith Project is taking a close look at goodness. It is not the same as obedience. So, what exactly is goodness? You might be surprised.

I think my parents would say that for the most part, I was “a good girl” growing.”


Don’t we want our children to be “good.”

But what does being good really mean?

If you’re like me, you think “being good” equals being obedient. Isn’t that what you’re looking for when you tell your children to “be good.”


And when I chose the word goodness for the month of August, that’s what I thought I’d be writing about.

Oh yippee! A month talking about Jesus following obedience.

If a month of looking at all the ways you’re falling short when it comes to following Jesus well makes you want to run screaming from the room . . . you can, like me, breathe a sigh of relief.

Goodness is not a synonym for obedience.

It’s okay, you can admit you’re just a little relieved.

But if goodness isn’t obedience then . . . what is goodness?

It’s listed among the Fruit of the Spirit; however, it’s not something we talk about often. It’s just easier to talk about joy, love, patience, kindness, and faithfulness.

The problem may be that goodness somehow seems relative. My idea of what is good may be very different from yours.

But God is not relative! And neither is goodness.

The list of synonyms for goodness is – moral, virtuous, competent, useful, reliable, kind, authentic, and beneficial, but not obedient or obedience. 

So, like the other words we’ve studied together:

  • Freedom
  • Love
  • Wisdom
  • Prayer
  • Humility
  • Patience
  • Stillness

It’s possible you and I have a limited view of goodness.

Let’s start digging deep into the word “goodness,” like we have with every word . . . let’s look up. Let’s begin with our relationship with God.

Goodness and obedience are not synonyms. So, what exactly is goodness?

What is Goodness?

You’ve heard the expression – God is good! We say it all the time, but what does it mean?

The Greek word for goodness is – agathosune, ἀγαθωσύνη, pronounced (ag-ath-o-soo’-nay).

It is defined as – intrinsic goodness, especially as a personal quality, with the stress being on the kindly (rather than the righteous) side of goodness. (Strong’s Concordance)

God is good because:

  1. He is perfect and righteous – it is who He is.
  2. He is kind – it is what He does.

Everything God made is good.

God looked at everything He had made, and it was very good.  Genesis 1:31

God’s promise of a Savior is good.

I will make you and the woman enemies to each other. Your descendants and her descendants will be enemies. One of her descendants will crush your head, and you will bite His heel.” Genesis 3:15

Kings declared God good.

Praise the Lord! Thank the Lord because He is good. His love continues forever. Psalm 106:1

Prophets declared God good. 

Tell these people to come to me. Let them talk about these things together. Who told you long ago that this would happen? Who told about it long ago? I, the Lord, said these things. There is no other God beside me. I am the only good God. I am the Savior. There is no other God. Isaiah 45:21

God revealed His goodness in and through Jesus.

The Son of Man came to find lost people and save them.” Luke 19:10

This is how God showed His love to us: He sent his one and only Son into the world so that we could have life through Him. 1 John 4:9

God’s mercy is great, and he loved us very much. Though we were spiritually dead because of the things we did against God, he gave us new life with Christ. You have been saved by God’s grace. Ephesians 2:4–5

God is at work doing good in your life and mine.

We know that in everything God works for the good of those who love Him. They are the people He called, because that was His plan. Romans 8:28

Everything God does is good.

Every good action and every perfect gift is from God. These good gifts come down from the Creator of the sun, moon, and stars, who does not change like their shifting shadows. James 1:17

God, I will thank you forever for what you have done. With those who worship you, I will trust you because you are good. Psalm 52:9

God is good – it is who He is and what He does. 

Simply put – God is good because everything about Him always has been and always will be good, and because everything He has ever done or will ever do is good. 

You and I can stand with kings and prophets and boldly proclaim – God is good!

Look at that verse at the top of the list again –

God looked at everything He had made, and it was very good.  Genesis 1:31


That means you!

You were created in His image and that means:

  • You are good simply because He made you.
  • You are able to do good because His Spirit living in you makes it possible.

Your Heavenly Father is good and He shows His goodness through His kindness (grace and mercy).

The Faith Project is taking a close look at goodness. It is not the same as obedience. So, what exactly is goodness? You might be surprised.

Beth Moore wrote the follow about goodness in Living Beyond Yourself:

“Kindness and goodness are complementary aspects of the fruit of the Spirit. Without kindness, goodness becomes harsh and self-righteous. Without goodness, kindness becomes indulgent tolerance. Only the Holy Spirit can balance and grow these essential qualities in our lives.”

God is righteous and God is kind.

He must punish sin because He is good (perfect righteousness). But because He is kind, He sent Jesus to take our punishment for us.

I can’t wait to sit with Him and dig deep into His Word this month and find out more about goodness. Goodness in my relationship with God and how it might look in my relationships with the people He puts around me.

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  1. I love how you’ve removed “goodness” from the usual interpretation of “obedience,” Deb. I heard that “good girl” stuff too much growing up and equated it with obedience just as you did.
    Yes, our God is good, all the time! Looking forward to this next series.

    1. Thanks, Martha! I’m excited to study it! I have a feeling there will be some surprises along the way! Blessings my friend!

  2. Excited to study goodness this month, Deb!
    And, aren’t you grateful for the goodness and the kindness of our Lord.
    Hope you have a blessed day~

    1. Amen, Melanie! What would we do without it!

  3. Kathleen Caldwell says:

    Amen! This is my first time visiting your blog. I really enjoyed reading how we as Christians continue to encourage one another; but sometime we have to encourage ourselves.

    Please continue to look up, to the Heavens where all our help comes from Jesus Christ!???

    Keep up the great Divine Work,

    May God Bless,

    Kathleen Caldwell
    Your Sister in Christ

    1. Welcome, Kathleen! Thank you so much for visiting! His grace in us to love and encourage each other!! Many blessings to ou!

  4. “You are able to do good because His Spirit living in you makes it possible.” YES! God is the only thing that is truly good in us. Great post, Deb!

    1. Thanks, Lauren! His goodness in us! Amen! May it be so!

  5. Ruthie Gray says:

    I’m always seeking more information on God’s goodness. This is a wonderfully refreshing perspective on how goodness is NOT obedience for us, but something the Holy Spirit can work in us. I want to not only pursue the fact of God’s goodness in my own mind, but the goodness of God working in my heart!

    Great thoughts, friend!

    1. I love how you said that, Ruthie! “God’s goodness working in my heart!” Amen! That’s surrender to Him! I want that! Thanks so much for your encouragement!

  6. Gleniece Lytle says:

    From one word study lover to another-bravo! I really enjoyed learning the inside of a word we think we all know. Thank you, Deb.
    I’m visiting from #SittingAmongFriends. Have a blessed day. ?

  7. “God is good – it is who He is and what He does” – love that thought! Goodness in character and deed. Great post!

  8. Thank you so much Deb for this beautiful reminder that we are good because God is good, we are His and His Spirit dwells in us.

    You are blessed!

  9. Hi Am having a problem with this term ” goodness ”
    A ” born again Christian ” friend said that good people dont go to Heaven –only forgiven ones .
    Implying that God has to forgive us ….
    Surely , if we are kind and considerate of others and we ask THEIR forgiveness if we sin against them and make restitution we
    are good ..

    1. What a great question, Sandea! The problem is that we can never be “good” enough on our own. No matter how hard we try, we have and will always fall short of God’s perfect will for us. Our sins against others ARE sins against God and His commands and will. So, we need His forgiveness and that forgiveness comes through repentance and faith in Jesus. The Bible says, “We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in His sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when He freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed His life, shedding His blood.”

      Throughout the Bible, we are called to repent and turn to God through faith in Jesus. Throughout my life, God has shown me repeatedly that the Bible is the TRUTH I can trust! I encourage you to read the Bible. My favorite is the Life Application Bible – New Living Translation. The world wants us to believe that the Bible is a book of stories and myths but the truth is … it is a historical volume full of facts and the best help for life you will ever read. God bless you! I’m so glad you visited and shared your thoughts!

  10. I am starting my study on goodness

    1. Praying you are blessed, Agnes! God be with you!

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