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Oct 01, 2023

The Fruit of the Spirit is Goodness

The Fruit of the Spirit is Goodness

Passage: Micah 6:1-8

Speaker: Patrick Lafferty

Series: That’s the Spirit: Learning to keep in step with Him who indwells

Keywords: mercy, justice, humility, obedience, faithfulness, good, carefulness

You typically hear when someone has died, “she was a good person.” Without having them elaborate further, we know intuitively what they mean: someone without pretense, or eminently trustworthy, or deeply kind. When addressed as a “good teacher” Jesus himself replies “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.” What is goodness? What creates it or sustains it? We’ll listen to an oft-quoted passage from the prophet Micah we perhaps have never before pondered. We’ll consider how goodness has a compulsion, a counterfeit, and a true character.

Readings & Scriptures

8 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

PREPARATION: Psalm 23: 1-3, 5-6
LEADER: The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.

ALL: You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD

Hos. 6:4 What shall I do with you, O Ephraim?
What shall I do with you, O Judah?
Your love is like a morning cloud,
like the dew that goes early away.
5 Therefore I have hewn them by the prophets;
I have slain them by the words of my mouth,
and my judgment goes forth as the light.
6 For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice,
the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.

You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. 23 So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

CENTRAL TEXT: Micah 6:1-8
Hear what the LORD says:
Arise, plead your case before the mountains,
and let the hills hear your voice.
2 Hear, you mountains, the indictment of the LORD,
and you enduring foundations of the earth,
for the LORD has an indictment against his people,
and he will contend with Israel.

Mic. 6:3 “O my people, what have I done to you?
How have I wearied you? Answer me!
4 For I brought you up from the land of Egypt
and redeemed you from the house of slavery,
and I sent before you Moses,
Aaron, and Miriam.
5 O my people, remember what Balak king of Moab devised,
and what Balaam the son of Beor answered him,
and what happened from Shittim to Gilgal,
that you may know the righteous acts of the LORD.”

With what shall I come before the LORD,
and bow myself before God on high?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
with calves a year old?
7 Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams,
with ten thousands of rivers of oil?
Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression,
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”
8 He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the LORD require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?

BENEDICTION: Romans 12:2
LEADER: 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind,
that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.


  • Exodus 19:3-6
  • 1 Samuel 15:22-23, Isaiah 1:10-20; Amos 5:21-27
  • Isaiah 11:2-9
  • Jeremiah 22:1-5
  • Hosea 6:1-6
  • Mark 10:18
  • Mark 12:29-31
  • Luke 4
  • Acts 2:32-36
  • Romans 12:9-21
  • 1 Corinthians 13:1-3
  • 2 Corinthians 2:14-16
  • Hebrews 12:22


  1. Quick–don’t think, just answer: what does it mean to be “good”? Why did you come up with that sense? Who of your relationships do you first think of when you think of goodness?
  2. In the sermon you heard the simplest theological “grammar” lesson about the “indicative” and “imperative.” Refresh everyone’s memory as to what each means and how we see each manifested in this passage, or in other parts of Scripture. Why must each be taken into account? What happens if we leave either out?
  3. In vv.6, 7, we hear ventured an attempt to compensate for Israel’s sins. Why is that found wanting? Are those verses calling into question the whole act of making sacrifices for sin–why or why not?
  4. How does Micah unpack the nature of goodness (v. 8)? (If you know any about Micah’s day and the conditions he was speaking into, how might that setting have led him to emphasize those aspects of goodness?)
  5. Doing justly, loving faithfulness, walking carefully with God (our rendering of v. 8): how do those priorities relate?
  6. How did Jesus demonstrate such–both to those he encountered with particular need, and to all He came to die for?
  7. Broadly speaking what does a nation, a culture that seeks goodness look like? What are some things that people might seek together? Now–same question, this time the church?


InView Media Album


  • Our courts have their faults, as does any human institution, but in this country our courts are the great levelers, and in our courts all men are created equal. “I’m no idealist to believe firmly in the integrity of our courts and in the jury system—that is no ideal to me, it is a living, working reality. Gentlemen, a court is no better than each man of you sitting before me on this jury. A court is only as sound as its jury, and a jury is only as sound as the men who make it up. I am confident that you gentlemen will review without passion the evidence you have heard, come to a decision, and restore this defendant to his family. In the name of God, do your duty. Atticus Finch, in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird
  • Moral formation is best when it’s humble. It means giving people the skills and habits that will help them be considerate to others in the complex situations of life. It means helping people behave in ways that make other people feel included, seen, and respected. That’s very different from how we treat people now—in ways that make them feel sad and lonely, and that make them grow unkind. David Brooks 
  • We can no more separate truth from justice than we can subtract one side from a triangle and still consider it a triangle. Thaddeus Williams, Confronting Injustice without Compromising Truth: 12 Questions Christians Should Ask About Social Justice
  • There is only one sin, only one. And that is theft. Every other sin is a variation of theft. When you kill a man, you steal a life... you steal his wife's right to a husband, rob his children of a father. When you tell a lie, you steal someone's right to the truth. When you cheat, you steal the right to fairness... there is no act more wretched than stealing. Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner
  • I will concede that. . .I am a nonbeliever who has moral foundations that are derived from whether I like it or not, the sort of philosophical tradition which was itself based on theological assumptions. In other words, I could tell you that it’s all turtles or I could tell you the fact that I’ve emerged from a tradition that sort of starts in a place where theological assumptions were assumed to be woven into the fabric of what we consider morality. And that then down a long, long line, philosophical thinking and writing, they emerge at my particular moral values. All I can tell you is that from my limited and contingent point of view, the sort of inherent dignity and value of human beings slaps me in the face every time I observe human beings. And from a practical point of view, I feel that I have no choice but to take that seriously. Freddie deBoer
  • what use is a religion that only produces characters in history books? Was there not room for more ordinary glory? Civil rights activists inspired me, but the people who changed my life were regular members of my congregation. I recognized that the viability of our faith could not be reduced to its usefulness as an agent of critique. It was not simply a tool to provide a religious veneer to policies I supported. It was not less than a social revolution; it was more…. their faith did the small work of making them better people.
    Esau McCaulley