Defining goodness is as hard as being good. Jesus said that only One is Good. Only One exhibited unconditional love in the giving of His only begotten Son to die so that we might live even while we were black with sin. He exhibits selfless Love all the time and has this characteristic. We humans are given the chance to be Good, but how many times do we let self get in the way? Our desires constantly override that which is good for another. We humans have fits and starts of goodness, even those who do not have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit exhibit goodness of morals, values, kindnesses if not consistently at least vicarious sacrifices for their children.
Goodness is exhibited through kindness, joyfulness, beauty (as in God looked at all He had created and called it Good.) We can reason this out when we look at the Hebrew and Greek words for goodness.
The Hebrew word for good is טוב ṭôb (tobe) good (as an adjective) in the widest sense; used likewise as a noun, both in the masculine and the feminine, the singular and the plural (good, a good or good thing, a good man or woman; the good, goods or good things, good men or women), also as an adverb (well): – beautiful, best, better, bountiful, cheerful, at ease, X fair (word), (be in) favor, fine, glad, good (deed, -lier, liest, -ly, -ness, -s), graciously, joyful, kindly, kindness, liketh (best), loving, merry, X most, pleasant, + pleaseth, pleasure, precious, prosperity, ready, sweet, wealth, welfare, (be) well ([-favoured]).
The Greek has two words for goodness, χρηστότης chrēstotēs (khray-stot'-ace) usefulness, that is, moral excellence (in character or demeanor): – gentleness, good (-ness), kindness. And ἀγαθωσύνη agathōsunē (ag-ath-o-soo'-nay) goodness, that is, virtue or beneficence: – goodness.
Therefore we can reason that it would be impossible for any human without Jesus to live a life of goodness on a consistent and constant high standard because the human nature that we are born with just doesn’t have the stamina to do so.
In the story I wrote entitled Goodness I study the feelings of a mother whose newborn son is stolen from her side in the middle of the night. It is reasonable that the women’s husbands were dead or off serving in the army since every able-bodied man older than 19 must serve in the king’s army for at least two years, and longer if Israel were at war. It is also reasonable that since the Hebrew word translated harlot is the word for wanton, and that wanton also means “well-fed” that the two women were rather wealthy and very well-fed women. It is also very interesting that “women” is translated from the Hebrew נשׁים אשּׁה. 'ishshâh nâshı̂ym (ish-shaw', naw-sheem') Which the first form is the feminine of Man or Mortal and the second an irregular plural form of woman used in the wide sense of adulteress. A woman and an adulteress or both were adulteresses. The Hebrew is not clear.
What, you may ask, was the Goodness in this story? I don't know that anyone can understand this without having first wanted and desired something with every fiber of their being, been given that desire for a little while and then the thing be taken away. That is only the first half of understanding the Goodness part. The other half is knowing what is good for another, understanding and wanting what is best for another over and above what is best for self then choosing that course of action, such as Jesus choice to remain on the cross enduring the pain and shame. To a lesser degree, the mother of that newborn exhibited the same kind of goodness.
During the course of the study of this Bible story, and writing Goodness, I discovered several things of which it is difficult to share.
Many of us have an academic knowledge of rejection, grief, pain and we sympathize with those enduring the events of loss that cause these feelings and have even felt them ourselves. But there is another dimension to these feelings which we need to understand.
I know what being rejected by someone I love feels like. My ex-husband tossed me out of the house without a by your leave. Because the pain of that felt like my soul was split in two, I understand to a puny degree how Jesus felt when He cried, “Oh Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how I long to gather you like a hen gathers her chicks, but you would have none of it.” That was rejection of love and tenderness and support like no human can offer, yet, in my heart, I can identify with Jesus' feelings and I will endeavor to never cause that feeling in another if I can possibly help it, most especially in my Lord God Almighty.
I know what grief over losing something treasured feels like. For me, grief is almost worse than rejection, although they are kin. Grief pierces the soul, digs a hole and leaves it gapping and bleeding. To be rejected and to lose something treasured is, for a little while, beyond bearing. It crushes the soul. It squeezes out everything else and leaves a pressed flat two dimensional world that has no color, no flavor. The mother knew that deep grief when the sword appeared and was about to slice her child in two. Goodness will put aside selfish desires for the greater well-being of another. Goodness pushed aside the grief and gave her the strength to act for her son’s benefit.
Jesus was rejected by His very own people. Those He loved most, who were closest to him deserted Him in His darkest hour. And yet, He looked past the shame of the cross to the joy beyond. His joy certainly came in the morning. To be able to look beyond the rejection and beyond the grief to know that in a little while the searing pain will pass and in a little more than a while, we will see Jesus in all His glory riding on that white horse with the words emblazoned on His thigh, “King of Kings and Lord of Lords” forever and forever and forever to reign with Him.
That, my siblings, is the joy beyond. We are only here for a little while. So, every time God gives us the opportunity to “Be Good”, let's remember that the sacrifice now brings greater and more perfect joy beyond. God never takes something without giving something greater and more perfect in its place. Ask Job, he knows.