The sixth Fruit of the Spirit as listed in Galatians 5:22–23 is translated from the Greek ἀγαθωσύνη as “generosity” in the New Revised Standard Version, but most translations into English render the term as “goodness”. Perhaps here is a clue to our experience of the goodness of God – through divine generosity we know the goodness of God.
God’s generosity, in the Anglican tradition of the Book of Common Prayer (BCP), has been described beautifully: “Almighty God, Father of all mercies, we thine unworthy servants do give thee most humble and hearty thanks for all thy goodness and loving-kindness … We bless thee for our creation, preservation, and all the blessings of this life; but above all for thine inestimable love in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ, for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory.” (A General Thanksgiving, Book of Alternative Services – BAS – p.129)
On the same page in our BAS is a contemporary General Thanksgiving, beautifully crafted and challenging. It begins: “Accept, O Lord, our thanks and praise for all that you have done for us. We thank you for the splendor of the whole creation, for the beauty of this world, for the wonder of life, and for the mystery of love. We thank you for the blessing of family and friends, and for the loving care which surrounds us on every side.”
It includes this challenge: “We thank you also for those disappointments and failures that lead us to acknowledge our dependence on you alone.” The mystery of the divine generosity and goodness is such that we have the freedom to experience disappointments and failures as occasions of grace and redemption. What a wonderfully real and gritty Christian prayer since it speaks directly to the muddle and messiness of our lives!
Each prayer acknowledges Jesus Christ, through the incarnation and paschal mystery, as the supreme expression of God’s generosity. Our response in the words of the BCP version of the prayer is that, “we shew forth thy praise, not only with our lips, but in our lives; by giving up ourselves to thy service, and by walking before thee in holiness and righteousness all our days.”
The background to these prayers on p.129 of our BAS can be read here.
Father Mark Greenaway-Robbins