For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works (agathosune), which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10
The Greek word agathosune (ag-ath-o-soó-nay) means an active goodness, the virtue of “doing good, beneficence, generosity. It is the word most Bible versions use. It is sometimes, however, confused with chrestotes (khray-tot’-ace), which means having excellent and good moral character. The NRSV listed this seed, instead of goodness, as generosity, as I’ve done here.
Just as we know how to love because God first loved us, we know how to be generous because of God’s generosity toward us. This generosity is called grace. It is undeserved. It is a gift. It is bestowed upon us by a Giver who loves us for who we are, not for what we do. There is nothing we can do to make God love us more; there is nothing we can do to make God love us less. His great love and grace are so generous it is, to quote the song*, like trying to swallow the ocean.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God. Ephesians 2:8
It is this grace that makes most of us desire to be generous. It is this salvation that transforms our hearts, leads us to understand that without God everything else is worthless. It is this seed of grace planted in our hearts that opens us to goodness and generosity.
The Goodness Seed
by Heidi Viars
I felt the Father sow one day
A seed into my heart.
His seed of goodness, there it lay-
Waiting to break apart.
God poured His love from His deep well,
Abundantly to me.
God’s Spirit worked, and moved, and dwelt –
Broke open heart and seed.
He then asked me to mind the seed,
To till the soil inside,
Surrender all – and His will seek –
In Christ’s Words to abide.
Now fruit of goodness grows quite fast
In tenderhearted soil.
This generous fruit is meant to last,
For goodness doesn’t spoil.
Christ gave each one of us the special gift of grace, showing how generous he is. (Ephesians 4:7) The Lord generously poured out the Spirit into us through Jesus Christ. (Titus 3:6) The Spirit then gave each one a manifestation of Himself for the common good. (1 Corinthians 12:7)
In other words, we have been generously given unmerited grace and the Holy Spirit. In turn, the Holy Spirit has bestowed upon us certain gifts – talents, if you will – to use generously and compassionately for the good of others.
Think of this gift as a pay-it-forward offering. The apostle Paul explains it this way:
So I beg you, brothers and sisters, because of the great mercy God has shown us, offer your lives as a living sacrifice to him—an offering that is only for God and pleasing to him. This is truly the way to worship him. Romans 12:1
Rather than using your unique gift for self-indulgence, use it to generously enrich the lives of others. If you’re not certain how to do this, ask God.
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. James 1:5
The Goodness Seed copyright 2014 Heidi Viars
Heidi’s blog, Wings of the Dawn http://heidiviars.com/ contains beautifully organic photography and poetry that speak to the beauty and majesty of God. Heidi, like many of us, was rescued from darkness by the incredible light and love of Jesus. Through her art, she hopes her readers “sense His hand leading you, even if you are “taking the wings of the dawn or dwell in the remotest part of the sea. (Psalm 139)”
This post can also be seen on Susan Irene Fox, http://susanirenefox.com/2014/03/21/fruit-of-the-spirit-generosity/
*©2013 Swallow the Ocean, NewSong, HHM Records/ NewSong Ministries