Goodness is magnanimity of disposition. It gives the character a large-heartedness, a wide-heartedness, a generous-heartedness. It expresses itself primarily in our motives, which are large-hearted, wide-hearted incentives to action. It expresses itself in our thoughts, which makes them not narrow, but broadly comprehensive. It prevents our words from being narrow and sectarian; and it makes our acts of a magnanimous spirit that graciously and kindly does benevolent and beneficient things to others.
The opposite of goodness is badness, narrow-mindedness and narrow-heartedness – little-souledness of disposition in motive, thought, word and act.
Examples of Goodness
Our Heavenly Father is the personification of goodness, which shows in His person, character, Plan and works. His creating the angels and the human family was an expression of His goodness; for He did not need them for His own happiness, but created them out of His pleasure of doing good; and when His Plan comes to a completion, every step of it will be seen to be an expression of goodness. His giving His only begotten Son as our Ransom is the supreme expression of goodness (John 3: 16) (Romans 5: 8) (Hebrews 2: 9).
Our Lord Jesus, next to the Father, gives us the highest expression of this quality (Matthew 11: 28-30) (John 1: 14) (John 10: 11) (Colossians 3: 13). It was surely goodness on His part that made Him willing to become a man, enduring the effects of the evil conditions in the world (2 Corinthians 8: 9) (Philippians 2: 5-9). It was goodness that made Him freely yield Himself in consecration to God, and that prompted Him to carry out that consecration in many acts described as His going “about doing good” (Acts 10: 38). His goodness delighted in healing the sick, blessing the unfortunate and comforting the bereaved and the afflicted, in opening the eyes of understanding of such as had eyes to see; and finally, it made Him yield Himself uncomplainingly to death on the cross, that He might bring life to the children of men.
Abraham showed goodness of heart, for example, when his herdsmen and Lot’s herdsmen quarreled and he gave Lot the choice of whatever part of the land he desired to use for his flocks and herds (Genesis 13: 7-18). Joseph surely expressed goodness in his dealings with his brothers who had so sorely mistreated him (Genesis 45: 1-15). Moses showed it toward Miriam and Aaron (Numbers 12: 1, 2) (Numbers 12: 13), and Joshua and Israel’s elders toward the Gibeonites (Joshua 9: 3-27). David was good to Saul, who sought his life, whereas he could have taken Saul’s life during Saul’s efforts to kill him (1 Samuel 24: 2-22). The Apostle Paul’s goodness showed itself in his laying down his life on behalf of God’s Plan, for the blessing of the brethren.
We have some splendid examples of goodness in natural men, such as Abraham Lincoln going out of his way to save the life of a pig sinking in mire, comforting and relieving war-bereaved mothers and wives and pardoning some victims of court-martials.
Its Office and Advantages
Goodness exercises a special office in us. First, it tends to please every heart that is at all touched with human kindness, when that heart is made the object of goodness’ deeds. Second, it always stands ready to help. It helps the poor, the afflicted, the unfortunate and the needy. It helps the helpless, giving them what they need and lends them a helping hand amid life’s adversities. Third, it uplifts. It ennobles the one who exercises it and the one who receives it. When we come into contact with a good person, does not that person ennoble our thoughts, words and acts by their influence?
Goodness has its advantages. It is advantageous toward God, because it pleases Him. It advances His interests, pleases His children, forwards His Truth and brings people into harmony with Him. It is good for the one who exercises it, because its exercise gives him more of the spirit of the Lord; it gives him greater ability to be useful and helpful to those with whom he comes in contact. It is likewise advantageous for others, for the goodness of some Christians has brought others to repentance toward God, faith in the Lord Jesus, consecration to God and faithfulness even amidst trials, temptations, sufferings and defeats.