17 As Jesus was starting out on his way to Jerusalem, a man came running up to him, knelt down, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked. “Only God is truly good. 19 But to answer your question, you know the commandments: ‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. You must not cheat anyone. Honor your father and mother.’[a]” 20 “Teacher,” the man replied, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.” 21 Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 22 At this the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.
This powerful passage relates to the fruit of goodness, because it reminds us that only God is good, and we are not. We can’t get to heaven by trying to be good because we’ll never be good enough. The only way to be good is to be made good by Christ through conversion. If we want to do good things we must first admit our sin and call on Jesus to save us. As we submit and surrender to the One who alone is good then, His goodness will flow through us. Often when our kids are going over to someone else’s house we as parents will tell our kids to, “Be good.” But what do we mean by that? Most often we mean to behave. Most of us have been raised to see goodness as living out a long list of rules, good people don’t do this and this but instead do this and that. This concept is nothing new, 2000 years ago a man came to Jesus with this same concept of goodness. But Goodness is not the result of following rules but of following the Redeemer. Rules don’t result in a good life but a guarded life, instead of being free with our possessions and blessing other people we become protective. We put all our energy into keeping the rules instead of it revolving around a relationship of loving the Lord. So, let me ask you are you living a rule-based life or a relationship-based life? And what truths are you teaching your children? Many of us have made the goal goodness, but the goal is God. We tell our kids to be good, but do we tell them how? Instead of telling them to go and be good we should be telling them to love God, because as they do the result will be a good life. The rich young ruler walked away so we don’t get to see what goodness looks like in his life but there is a man in the bible who gives us a glimpse of what growing in goodness looks like. When faced with the decision to love God and others or serve self he made the right decision. Instead of walking away stuck in the storm of selfishness, the trajectory of this man’s life was radically transformed when he decided to follow Christ. His name is Joseph, but you probably know him by his nickname Barnabas. He was given this nickname because it literally means, “The son of encouragement.” Listen to how Luke describes his character in Acts 11:24: “He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith…” He was good because he knew God. He wasn’t good because he was born that way, or because he kept some of the commandments. He was full of goodness because he was full of the Holy Spirit. As a result, goodness resulted in him giving to God, Acts 4:37 tells us that Barnabas sold his property and gave the proceeds to the church. He viewed his assets through the eyes of stewardship, not ownership. A steward is one who owns nothing but is responsible for everything. While the rich young ruler served his money and walked away from Christ, Barnabas chose to serve the kingdom of God with his money. What about you who have you committed your cash to, serving Christ or serving self? In Acts 11:24, after describing Barnabas as a “good man,” who was full of the Holy Spirit and faith; it says that “a great number of people were brought to the Lord.” Goodness results in us sharing the good news with lost people. The first good things that Barnabas did of giving his money to God relate to the “Great Commandment” where we’re told to love God and others. Where this one has to do with the “Great Commission” in Matthew 28:19, where we are called to share Christ with all people. One of the best ways to let the fruit of goodness out is to share the good news of the gospel with those you come in contact with. Right now, I want you to think of at least one person who you can build a relationship with so that you’ll have the opportunity to share Christ with them. Are you a Barnabas believer, who gives and shares the good news or like the man that Jesus spoke to who was tied up in serving self? If we want to grow in goodness we have to give ourselves full to God. Because goodness flows out of following Jesus not following rules.