Goodness seems to be a word of implication; people seem to use the word good to imply a bunch of other things. Here are some examples of what I mean: "He's a good kid" implies he obeys his parents, does well in school and stays out of trouble. "She's a good employee" implies she shows up on time, is efficient, thorough and ethical. So generally when I think of the fruit goodness I think of it as an umbrella over all the other fruits or rather that it is a fruit that encompasses all the other fruits.
As I thought about this virtue much of the weekend I wondered if it were just a blend of the other fruits why would Paul reference it all mixed in with the others? Why not say "the fruit of the Spirit is goodness, you know: love, joy, peace, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control."?
So I did my homework. If you're bored already then go ahead and skip to the bottom and start praying for goodness for your kids. If you're not, then keep reading and will unpack this together.
"Goodness" in this passage is the Greek translation for agathosune meaning "uprightness of heart and life". It seems to me Paul is asking us to live honest, ethical lives because others are watching us when we claim to be Christ followers. As the Spirit transforms us from old to new our lives should dramatically look different and when they do it points to Christ and God is glorified.
If we preach the message of Christ but don't live an upright life or have goodness then how much of our message is diminished? Matthew 5 tells us that we are the light of the world and that we are to let our "light shine before men that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven". And perhaps if we're letting our goodness be our message then a lot less words will need to be used.
Finally, we are to live an upright life and pray goodness for our children because ultimately we want them to be like God and He is good. "And He said, 'I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the Lord before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion.' (Exodus 33:19)
Usually I write my own prayers but Paul's prayer for goodness to the church in Thessalonica is just to beautiful and poetic not to use. I will paraphrase it for us (plus, there is nothing more powerful than praying God's word over your kids!):
God of goodness, I pray for You to fulfil my every desire of goodness and every work of faith for _________. I pray You will transform his life with Your amazing Spirit so that those around him will be drawn to You and come to know Your saving power. I pray ________ will live an upright life so the mighty and powerful name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.