The Wednesday Word Devotional for July 5, 2023.

“Goodness” by Julie Hart, Director of Connectional Ministries

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy peace, forbearance, kindness, GOODNESS, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23

Week six in our Fruit of the Spirit devotional series brings us to goodness — providing selfless care for others.

When we are teaching children about goodness in the Bible, we often turn to the book of Luke and the story of The Good Samaritan. It is there that we are read: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

I believe that goodness (as the fruit of the spirit) goes a bit further than just loving our neighbor as we love ourselves. I believe this spiritual fruit shows up in the times when we put others’ needs and comforts before our own. Don’t get me wrong. I am certainly not suggesting that you should always put what you want and need on the back burner (I support self-care), but I do think that there are times in our lives when we are prompted to do so. And I believe that those little nudges and promptings come from the Holy Spirit.

As I write this devotional, we are three weeks away from the start of the elementary camp that I am blessed to be a part of this summer. We have been meeting and planning for months and we have an incredible staff of selfless youth and adults who are prepared to put the needs of the campers before their own. They signed up for this mission knowing that it will mean sacrificing sleep, peace, quiet, and the creature comforts of home. Many of them even gave up a week of their vacation time to serve. Now that is pretty darn good!

But guess what? It gets even GOODER (yes, gooder!)

I was talking to the mother of one of the youth counselors who had recently been to camp as a camper. Even though she was there as a camper and not a counselor that week, she became friends with an awkward/outsider kid (you know that kid) and made it her mission that week to make that one camper feel special. She hung out with her, sat with her during mealtimes, and put the needs of this camper before her own. And yes, these are things that we are called and expected to do when we go to camp to serve as counselors. But showing up like that for someone when she was there as a camper shows me just how juicy this teen’s spiritual fruit is.

She will probably never know what impact she had on that young camper that week — what it meant for that one girl to feel loved, respected, and seen for those five days. I am betting that girl went down the mountain from camp that Friday a different kid than she was when she rode up on Monday. And that is the goodness that I am talking about. The life-giving, light-shining, soul-nourishing kind of goodness that changes lives. And that is the goodness that comes from the Holy Spirit. And the good news is, that goodness is in you, and it’s in me. Thanks be to God.

Some questions to ponder as you consider this goodness in your life:

When is a time that you went the extra mile for someone that you were not obligated to help?

What prompted or inspired you to do so?

What was the response from the recipient of your goodness?

How did that selfless act make you feel closer to God?

Dear God,

You are so so good to me. You lift me up from the muck of the day, shine light in the dark places, and remain present in both the good and the bad parts of my life. Help me to hear your whisper when I have a chance to grow in your goodness. Present me with opportunities to have richer, sweet fruit in my spirit.