Monday, May 6, 2013

Counterfeit Goodness

It took me awhile to appreciate passion fruit (markisa, in Indonesian). The fruit looks very pretty on the outside, but I must admit that I kind of lost my appetite when I saw the inside of the fruit for the first time. But here's the thing. When this fruit is mixed into a fruit salad, it just kind of blends in and adds its flavor without being noticed. Some people enjoy slurping the entire gob of slippery pulp and seeds at one gulp, enjoying the fruit outright. Passion fruit may be noticed by the "slurpers" or unconsciously enjoyed in a fruit salad. Noticed or not, passion fruit, like "real deal" goodness adds its flavor wherever it goes.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
(Galatians 5:22-23)

As we continue looking at the Fruit of the Spirit, and the counterfeits of each one, we come to the spiritual fruit of goodness.

The word good is used so freely and in so many situations that it may lose some of the meaning intended when referring to the fruit of the Spirit. How do we use this word?

“Do you want another cup of coffee?” “No, I’m good.”
“He’s a really good guy.”
“That’s a really good book!”
“I’m having a really good day today.”
“Eat lots of fresh veggies so you get all the natural goodness of the vitamins.”

What is Counterfeit Goodness?

Those are all perfectly legitimate uses of the word good, or words related to it. But none of them quite capture the meaning of the word goodness as it is used in the Bible.

The example above that come the closest to the biblical meaning is the second one in the list. “He’s a really good guy.” That example, at least, deals with what a person does and how he or she acts.

If that is all goodness means to us, though, then we are likely to substitute a counterfeit for genuine goodness. People can do all kinds of good things for the wrong reasons. I’ve done it, and I suspect many others have too. We do things that others will consider admirable so that those others will see what we do and recognize us for how good we are.

I’d call this counterfeit people-pleasing. Doing good things for the recognition and appreciation it brings. Of course, when that is the motivation, and no one seems to notice that good and admirable thing we did, we find ourselves somewhat disgruntled. That is hardly in line with the fruit of the Spirit, is it?

True Goodness Lies in Motivation

When I looked up goodness in the New Testament Greek Lexicon, I found this definition: uprightness of heart and life, goodness, kindness. (emphasis mine)

Notice especially the underlined words: uprightness of heart and life. In speaking of uprightness of life, this definition certainly encompasses what we do. By speaking of uprightness of heart, though, we are taken beyond the realm of actions, and into the realm of heart motivation.

True goodness does not do things just to be seen. True goodness flows from a heart that is upright and in tune with the Holy Spirit. When our hearts are right, goodness can’t help but flow out of us, and it won’t matter to us who sees what we do.

So here is the big question. Are we allowing the Holy Spirit to grow “real deal” goodness in our lives…or are we settling for counterfeit people pleasing?

Time for Reflection

  • Thing about the three most recent good things you did for someone else.
  • Do a heart check. What motivated you to do each one? Did you even think about it, or did it just come naturally?
  • Were you recognized for what you did?
  • If not, how did you feel about your good deed going unappreciated?
  • If you were recognized for it, do you think it would have made any difference to you if you hadn’t been recognized?
  • After considering these questions, do you conclude that you most often operate out of “real deal” goodness, or does counterfeit people-pleasing describe your motivation more often than you would like?
  • Take a moment to ask God to grow His spiritual fruit of goodness in you so that your good deeds flow our of an upright heart.


  1. As a mandatory reporter, I had to call CSD and notify them of a parent abandoning a child (how any "parent" could ever do this I don't know). Anyway, I was wretched all day, but knew deep down, that even though this might snowball a traumatic time for a short period, it might bring about some good. I don't know if the student will ever look at it as good. But all kids deserve to be raised in loving relationships (even if that is a foster parent for a 16yo).

  2. That had to be so hard. I'm glad you went ahead and did what you needed to do. I also hope and pray that this will bring about good for the teen involved.

  3. Ohh...this is GOOD stuff to think about and reflect on. :-) I think my heart is always in the right place when I do good deeds, but I'll admit to wanting to feel appreciated for them too. I'm a work in-progress... Great post, friend!

    1. We are all work in progress. And that's OK. After all, fruit GROWS!


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