Keep On Displaying Goodness

“The fruitage of the light consists of every sort of goodness and righteousness and truth.”—EPHESIANS 5:9.

1. How do millions now show that they agree with Psalm 31:19?

THE greatest good that any human can do is to bring glory to Jehovah. Today, millions are doing this by praising God for his goodness. As loyal Witnesses of Jehovah, we wholeheartedly agree with the psalmist who sang: “How abundant your goodness is, which you have treasured up for those fearing you!”—Psalm 31:19.

2, 3. What could happen if our disciple-making work was not backed up by good conduct?

2 Reverential fear of Jehovah motivates us to praise him for his goodness. It also moves us to ‘laud Jehovah, bless him, and make known the glory of his kingship.’ (Psalm 145:10-13) That is why we share zealously in the Kingdom-preaching and disciple-making work. (Matthew 24:14; 28:19, 20) Of course, our preaching activity must be backed up by good conduct. Otherwise, we could bring reproach on Jehovah’s holy name.

3 Many people profess to worship God, but their conduct does not conform to the standards set forth in his inspired Word. Regarding some who were not living up to their claims of doing good, the apostle Paul wrote: “Do you, . . . the one teaching someone else, not teach yourself? You, the one preaching ‘Do not steal,’ do you steal? You, the one saying ‘Do not commit adultery,’ do you commit adultery? . . . ‘The name of God is being blasphemed on account of you people among the nations’; just as it is written.”—Romans 2:21, 22, 24.

4. Our good conduct has what effect?

4 Instead of bringing reproach upon Jehovah’s name, we strive to glorify it by our good conduct. This has a positive effect on those outside the Christian congregation. For one thing, it helps us to silence our opposers. (1 Peter 2:15) More important, our good conduct draws people to Jehovah’s organization, opening the way for them to bring him glory and to gain everlasting life.—Acts 13:48.

5. What questions should we now consider?

5 Since we are imperfect, how can we avoid conduct that could dishonor Jehovah and stumble truth seekers? Indeed, how can we succeed in displaying goodness?

A Fruit of the Light

6. What are some of “the unfruitful works that belong to the darkness,” but what fruitage should be evident among Christians?

6 As dedicated Christians, we enjoy something that helps us to avoid “unfruitful works that belong to the darkness.” These include such God-dishonoring works as lying, stealing, abusive speech, unwholesome talk about  sex, shameful conduct, obscene jesting, and drunkenness. (Ephesians 4:25, 28, 31; 5:3, 4, 11, 12, 18) Instead of involving ourselves in such works, we “go on walking as children of light.” The apostle Paul says that “the fruitage of the light consists of every sort of goodness and righteousness and truth.” (Ephesians 5:8, 9) So it is by walking in the light that we are able to keep on displaying goodness. But what kind of light is this?

7. What must we do to continue displaying the fruit of goodness?

7 Despite our imperfections, we can display goodness if we walk in spiritual light. “Your word is a lamp to my foot, and a light to my roadway,” sang the psalmist. (Psalm 119:105) If we want to keep on displaying “the fruitage of the light” through “every sort of goodness,” we must consistently take advantage of spiritual light that is found in God’s Word, is carefully examined in Christian publications, and is regularly discussed at our meetings for worship. (Luke 12:42; Romans 15:4; Hebrews 10:24, 25) We also need to give special attention to the example and teachings of Jesus Christ, “the light of the world” and “the reflection of [Jehovah’s] glory.”—John 8:12; Hebrews 1:1-3.

A Fruit of the Spirit

8. Why can we display goodness?

8 Spiritual light unquestionably helps us to display goodness. In addition, we are able to manifest this quality because we are led by God’s holy spirit, or active force. Goodness is part of “the fruitage of the spirit.” (Galatians 5:22, 23) If we yield to the guidance of Jehovah’s holy spirit, it will produce in us its wonderful fruit of goodness.

9. How can we act in harmony with Jesus’ words recorded at Luke 11:9-13?

9 Our keen desire to please Jehovah by displaying the spirit’s fruit of goodness should move us to act in harmony with Jesus’ words: “Keep on asking, and it will be given you; keep on seeking, and you will find; keep on knocking, and it will be opened to you. For everyone asking receives, and everyone seeking finds, and to everyone knocking it will be opened. Indeed, which father is there among you who, if his son asks for a fish, will perhaps hand him a serpent instead of a fish? Or if he also asks for an egg, will hand him a scorpion? Therefore, if you, although being [imperfect and thus comparatively] wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more so will the Father in heaven give holy spirit to those asking him!” (Luke 11:9-13) Let us follow Jesus’ counsel by praying for Jehovah’s spirit so that we can keep on displaying its fruit of goodness.

“Keep Doing Good”

10. What aspects of Jehovah’s goodness are cited at Exodus 34:6, 7?

10 With spiritual light from God’s Word and with the help of God’s holy spirit, we can “keep doing good.” (Romans 13:3) Through regular Bible study, we learn more and more about how we can imitate Jehovah’s goodness. The preceding article considered aspects of God’s goodness cited in the declaration to Moses recorded at Exodus 34:6, 7, where we read: “Jehovah, Jehovah, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abundant in loving-kindness and truth, preserving loving-kindness for thousands, pardoning error and transgression and sin, but by no means will he give exemption from punishment.” A  closer look at these manifestations of Jehovah’s goodness will help us to “keep doing good.”

11. How should we be affected by the knowledge that Jehovah is merciful and gracious?

11 This divine declaration alerts us to the need to imitate Jehovah by being merciful and gracious. “Happy are the merciful,” said Jesus, “since they will be shown mercy.” (Matthew 5:7; Luke 6:36) Aware that Jehovah is gracious, we are moved to be gracious and pleasant in our dealings with others, including those to whom we preach. This harmonizes with Paul’s counsel: “Let your utterance be always with graciousness, seasoned with salt, so as to know how you ought to give an answer to each one.”—Colossians 4:6.

12. (a) Since God is slow to anger, how should we act toward others? (b) Jehovah’s loving-kindness motivates us to do what?

12 Since God is slow to anger, our desire to “keep doing good” moves us to put up with the minor failings of fellow believers and to focus on their good qualities. (Matthew 7:5; James 1:19) Jehovah’s loving-kindness motivates us to display loyal love, even under the most trying circumstances. This certainly is very desirable.—Proverbs 19:22.

13. How should we act to reflect that Jehovah is ‘abundant in truth’?

13 Since our heavenly Father is ‘abundant in truth,’ we seek to ‘recommend ourselves as his ministers by truthful speech.’ (2 Corinthians 6:3-7) Among seven things detestable to Jehovah are “a false tongue” and “a false witness that launches forth lies.” (Proverbs 6:16-19) So our desire to please God has moved us to ‘put away falsehood and speak truth.’ (Ephesians 4:25) May we never fail to manifest goodness in this vital way.

14. Why should we be forgiving?

14 God’s declaration to Moses should also motivate us to be forgiving, for Jehovah is ready to forgive. (Matthew 6:14, 15) Of course, Jehovah does bring punishment upon unrepentant sinners. We must therefore uphold his standards of goodness when it comes to maintaining the spiritual cleanness of the congregation.—Leviticus 5:1; 1 Corinthians 5:11, 12; 1 Timothy 5:22.

“Keep Strict Watch”

15, 16. How can Paul’s counsel recorded at Ephesians 5:15-19 help us to continue practicing goodness?

15 To pursue a course of goodness despite the evil that surrounds us, we need to be filled with God’s spirit and watch how we walk. Accordingly, Paul urged Christians in Ephesus: “Keep strict watch that how you walk is not as unwise but as wise persons, buying out the opportune time for yourselves, because the days are wicked. On this account cease becoming unreasonable, but  go on perceiving what the will of Jehovah is. Also, do not be getting drunk with wine, in which there is debauchery, but keep getting filled with spirit, speaking to yourselves with psalms and praises to God and spiritual songs, singing and accompanying yourselves with music in your hearts to Jehovah.” (Ephesians 5:15-19) This counsel surely is appropriate for us in these critical last days.—2 Timothy 3:1.

16 If we are to continue practicing goodness, we must keep strict watch that we walk as those exercising godly wisdom. (James 3:17) We must avoid gross sins and must be filled with holy spirit, allowing ourselves to be guided by it. (Galatians 5:19-25) By applying the spiritual instruction imparted at Christian meetings, assemblies, and conventions, we can keep on doing what is good. Paul’s words to the Ephesians may also remind us that at most of our gatherings for worship, we benefit from our heartfelt singing of “spiritual songs”—many of them dealing with spiritual qualities, such as goodness.

17. If their circumstances prevent them from attending meetings regularly, of what may seriously ill Christians be certain?

17 What about our fellow believers who are unable to attend Christian meetings regularly because of a serious chronic illness? They may feel crushed because they cannot always worship Jehovah in direct association with their spiritual brothers and sisters. But they can be sure that Jehovah understands their circumstances, will keep them in the light, will give them his holy spirit, and will help them to keep on doing what is good.—Isaiah 57:15.

18. What will help us to pursue a course of goodness?

18 Pursuing a course of goodness requires that we guard our associations and turn away from those who are “without love of goodness.” (2 Timothy 3:2-5; 1 Corinthians 15:33) Applying such counsel helps us to avoid “grieving God’s holy spirit” by acting contrary to its leadings. (Ephesians 4:30) Moreover, we are helped to do what is good if we develop close ties to those whose lives give evidence that they are lovers of goodness and are led by Jehovah’s holy spirit.—Amos 5:15; Romans 8:14; Galatians 5:18.

Goodness Brings Fine Results

19-21. Relate experiences that show the effect of displaying goodness.

19 Walking in spiritual light, yielding to the direction of God’s spirit, and watching how we walk will help us to avoid what is bad and to “keep doing good.” In turn, this can produce fine results. Consider the experience of Zongezile, one of Jehovah’s Witnesses in South Africa. On his way to school one morning, he checked the amount of his small savings. The slip from the automatic teller machine erroneously reflected an excess of R42,000 ($6,000, U.S.). A bank security guard and others urged him to withdraw the money and deposit it for himself in another bank. Only the Witness couple with whom he lived commended him for not withdrawing any of the money.

20 On the next working day, Zongezile reported the mistake to the bank. It was discovered that he had an account number that was similar to that of a rich businessman who had mistakenly deposited funds in the wrong account. Amazed that Zongezile had not spent any of this money, the businessman asked him: “What is your religion?” Zongezile explained that he was one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. He was warmly commended by the bank officials, who said: “We wish that all people were as honest as Jehovah’s Witnesses.” Truly, acts of honesty and goodness can cause others to glorify Jehovah.—Hebrews 13:18.

21 Acts of goodness do not have to be dramatic in order to have a fine effect. To illustrate: A young Witness who serves as a  full-time evangelizer on one of the islands of Samoa had to go to the local hospital. People were waiting to see a doctor, and the Witness noticed that an elderly woman next to him was very sick. He arranged for the lady to take his turn so that she could get attention sooner. On a later occasion, the Witness met this elderly woman at the market. She remembered him and his good deed at the hospital. “Now I know that Jehovah’s Witnesses truly love their neighbor,” she said. Whereas she had formerly been unresponsive to the Kingdom message, the goodness shown her by the Witness had a fine effect. She accepted the offer of a home Bible study and began to take in knowledge of God’s Word.

22. What is one especially significant way to “keep doing good”?

22 Very likely, you can relate experiences that show the value of displaying goodness. One especially significant way to “keep doing good” is to have a regular share in proclaiming the good news of God’s Kingdom. (Matthew 24:14) May we keep on zealously engaging in this privileged activity, realizing that this is one way to do good, especially to those who respond favorably. Most important, our ministry and good conduct glorify Jehovah, the very fountainhead of goodness.—Matthew 19:16, 17.

Continue to “Work What Is Good”

23. Why is the Christian ministry a good work?

23 Our ministry unquestionably is a good work. It can result in salvation for us and for those who listen to the Bible’s message and thus get on the road leading to everlasting life. (Matthew 7:13, 14; 1 Timothy 4:16) When we are faced with decisions, then, the desire to do what is good may well cause us to ask ourselves: ‘How will this decision affect my Kingdom-preaching activity? Is the course I am considering really good? Will it help me to assist others to accept the “everlasting good news” and come into a close relationship with Jehovah God?’ (Revelation 14:6) Great happiness will result from a decision that promotes Kingdom interests.—Matthew 6:33; Acts 20:35.

24, 25. What are some ways to do good in the congregation, and of what can we be sure if we keep on displaying goodness?

24 Let us never underestimate the beneficial effects of goodness. We can keep on displaying this quality by supporting the Christian congregation and doing what we can to look after its interests and welfare. Surely we do good when we regularly attend and participate in Christian meetings. Our very presence encourages fellow worshipers, and our well-prepared comments build them up spiritually. We also do good when we use our resources to maintain the Kingdom Hall and when we help to take proper care of it. (2 Kings 22:3-7; 2 Corinthians 9:6, 7) Indeed, “as long as we have time favorable for it, may we work what is good toward all, but especially toward those related to us in the faith.”—Galatians 6:10.

25 We cannot anticipate every situation that would call for a display of goodness. As we face new challenges, then, let us seek light from the Scriptures, pray for Jehovah’s holy spirit, and do our very best to carry out his good and perfect will. (Romans 2:9, 10; 12:2) We can be confident that Jehovah will bless us abundantly as we keep on displaying goodness.

How Would You Answer?

• How can we accomplish the greatest good?

• Why is goodness called a ‘fruit of the light’?

• Why is goodness called a ‘fruit of the spirit’?

• Our good conduct has what effect?

[Study Questions]

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God’s Word and his holy spirit help us to display goodness

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Displaying goodness brings fine results