by Samira Hannaniah
The word “good” will be uttered by an individual hundreds to thousands of times in one whole day, either to express how they feel, describe how a sandwich tastes or even to encourage others on the quality of their work. The word “good” can be used in countless different contexts and reflect a vast variety of meanings. Does the extensive array of meanings to this word change if we add three letters? Is the word “goodness” so different to its derivative, “good”?
As the word “good” can be quite diverse in its connotations, “goodness” is extremely specific and stylized. It comes from the Greek word “agathosune” which means “uprightness of heart and life”. We know “goodness” as one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit, but the question remains of what goodness entails on our part, and the relationship between goodness and God.
“God is good”
“All the time”
“And all the time…”
“God is good”
This famous call and response between clergy and congregation resonates between all denominations, all cultures and all Christians. And yet, sometimes we struggle to fathom the entirety of God’s goodness. According to HH Pope Shenouda III, the virtue of goodness is an “increase of tenderness, gentleness, meekness and kindness which is distant from harshness and cruelty”. It is an outwardly act, preserved for the benefit of others, seeking only to uplift and better those around. Romans 2:4 elicits the ultimate act of God’s goodness- “Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?”
It is through God’s goodness that we are prompted to repentance. It is through God’s goodness, that we are afforded another chance to return to Him. And it is also through God’s goodness that He persists with us. His Holiness further explains God’s goodness through His persistence for our salvation: – “He does not just forgive the sinner, but goes after the sinner in order to come back to Him, even if he did not want to”.
Why did the father of the Prodigal son celebrate his return and clothe him with the best robe, a ring and sandals? Why did Jesus dine with Zacchaeus the tax collector despite all his evil and injustice? Why did Jesus reveal Himself to the Samaritan woman on account of her honesty with respect to her past? Goodness. It was God’s goodness that reinvigorated a repentant heart within these individuals and several others throughout history. Goodness has the ability to transform the heart and render it vulnerable to God’s love, promoting an inner desire to come back to Him.
Now the only question that remains: – what effect does Goodness have in your life?