What Does It Mean to Have Goodwill?

What Does It Mean to Have Goodwill?

In the past several weeks I have covered two vital truths that can help the Love and Respect couple develop mutual understanding and good communication:

1. The mouth matters (what comes out of the mouth depends on what is in the heart).

2. Husbands and wives are not wrong, just very different (as different as pink and blue, as different as her need for love and his need for respect).

The third vital truth focuses on another simple but crucial concept: both of you must see each other as goodwilled persons. When one or both of you see the other as goodwilled, good things are in store for your marriage!

“But what,” I am often asked, “is goodwill? And how do I know I am showing goodwill toward my spouse? How can I be sure my spouse has goodwill toward me?”

A simple definition of goodwill is “the intention to do good toward the other person.” But there is much more to it than that. A spouse may intend to do good, but fail to deliver. Good intentions do not necessarily guarantee good results.

The apostle Paul captured the reality of good intentions but poor follow-through when he wrote about his own struggles with the flesh in Romans 7:19: “I don’t do the good things I want to do. I keep on doing the evil things I don’t want to do” (NIRV).

We all know what Paul is talking about. You or your spouse may want to do the right thing, but you don’t; or you or your spouse may want to stop doing the wrong things, but you don’t. When your spouse fails to follow through on good intentions, your definition of goodwill must also include the idea that goodwilled people do not mean any harm; they do not intend real evil toward one another. Your spouse may be neglectful, forgetful, or make a careless, even thoughtless remark. As a result, you may be hurt or angry and may lash out in some way to retaliate. But despite all these failings, deep down you both care for each other. Beneath the turmoil on the surface of what is going on, your goodwill remains intact.

But doesn’t Scripture also teach that “The heart is deceitful and desperately wicked”? And aren’t some spouses truly evil-willed?

I’ll unpack these questions and more in the weeks ahead.

Excerpts taken from The Language of Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs.


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