Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Goodness of God

When we think of the word “good” it probably means different things to all of us. So a good place to start would be with a definition. AW Tozer defines God’s goodness as, “that which disposes Him to be kind, cordial, benevolent, and full of good will toward men. He is tender hearted and of quick sympathy, and His unfailing attitude toward all moral begins is open, frank and friendly. By His nature He is inclined to bestow blessedness and He takes holy pleasure in the happiness of His people.” We know that there are many different attributes of God. Some divide these up into two categories; His Divine Attributes; such as Him being Holy, Self -Existence, Eternal, Transcendent, Infinite, Immutable, Omniscient, Omnipotent, Omnipresent and Sovereign. Then there are His Moral Attributes; such as His Faithfulness, longsuffering, Righteousness, Goodness, Grace, Mercy, Love and Wisdom. But I’m not so sure you can really separate these attributes of God! He is all of these and so much more! He is all of these, all the time! Who are we to try to define Him?

But there is great encouragement in looking at just who our God is, not only to see the things about Him that we’ll never begin to understand, but also to see the things about Him that He has revealed to us in His Word. In our day today we are surrounded by such evil and immorality that I have been occupied a little with just how GOOD our God is! So let’s begin by turning to Psalm 34. This Psalm was written by David when he pretended madness before Abimelech, who drove him away and David departed. This Psalm begins with a solute from the heart of David to God (34:1-3). Then David is occupied with God’s safety (34:4-7), followed by God’s supply (34:8-10), David goes on to mention God’s support (34:11- 19), ending with God’s security (34:20-22). But right in the middle of this Psalm we see God’s goodness! This is one of the things He supplies us with! Let’s look at it a little closer at verses 8-10.

Psalm 34:8 invites us to “taste and see that the Lord is good.” The sequence of the phrase makes tasting the action and seeing the result! The Lord wants us to engage all our senses in order for us to discover His goodness! But notice too that three other things surface here: First, we are to take refuge in Him and be blessed. Second, we are to fear the Lord and have no lack. Third we are to seek the Lord and lack no good thing. Taking refuge, fearing the Lord and seeking Him are three ways of tasting. The closer we engage with Him, the more we can know His goodness! He urges us to taste His goodness. He is the foundation of goodness and everything good and His goodness is a foundation stone for all our thoughts about Him!

Goodness in Creation 
The goodness of God is evident in all His creation. In Genesis 1:31 “God saw all that He had made, and it was very good…” It has been said, “Goodness is the brightness and loveliness of our majestical Creator.” Psalm 145:9 reminds us that “The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all He has made.” The goodness of God is the drive behind all the blessing He daily bestows upon us. Psalm 33:5 says, “The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.” Matthew 5:45 reminds us that, “…He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” James 1:17 informs us that, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” Men will sometimes say, “How can a good and loving God allow this?” This is a tough question to answer sometimes, and sometimes God is not quick to answer question like that, but remember His mercy and His kindness are over all He has made. And sometimes we hear quoted, sometimes at the wrong time, Romans 8:28 “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” Think of Joseph, all the deep waters he experienced and yet when he was through them, he could say to his brothers, who cause much of his pain, “you meant it for evil but God meant it for good.”

God’s Goodness is seen in the fall of Man 
When Adam and Eve sinned against God, He could have whipped mankind out. He could have deprived fallen mankind every blessing, every comfort and every pleasure. But instead we have already been reminded the He continues to send His goodness upon mankind. James 2:13 emphasizes the goodness of God when it says, “Mercy triumphs over judgment.” What does this mean? Think of all the evil in the world today that is a result of sin, God’s goodness still outweighs it! Sin has brought so much into this world but God’s goodness has allow man to grow and adapt in their understanding to their circumstances, such as sickness He allowed us to come up with medicines to help and heal.

But even after mankind has turned its back against God, His goodness cannot be called into question. The Apostle Paul elaborates on this saying, “do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God” (Rom. 2:4). Mankind has no else to blame but him-self if he rejects the goodness of God. 

God’s Goodness shown in the Coming of His Son 
In Luke 2:14 we hear the heavenly host declaring, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth, peace and goodwill toward men.” This was a great act of His goodness that demonstrates His heart of love toward us while we were yet sinners (Romans 5:8). We could cry out with the Psalmist “O, that men would praise the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men” (Ps. 107:8).

Acts 10:38 reminds us that Jesus anointed with the Holy Spirit and with power, went about doing every manner of good. People who saw Him saw this goodness displayed in His life. One time “a certain ruler came up to Him and said, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life” (Lk. 18:18)? The Lord Jesus said of Himself “I am the Good Shepherd: the Good Shepherd gives His life for the sheep” (Jn. 10:11, 14). Latter He said, “Many good works have I showed you from My Father; for which of those works do you stone Me” (Jn. 10:32)? 

God’s Goodness 
Back in Luke 18:19 the Lord Jesus said, “No one is good, but God.” Let’s observe a little closer what this statement really means: 

God is originally good: Meaning that all goodness originates from Him! There is no other source from which it comes as we read already in James 1:17 “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” 

God is essentially good: He is not only good, but goodness itself! Psalm 119: 68 declares, “You are good, and what you do is good…”

God is infinitely good: There is no limit to His goodness! His goodness is an ocean without banks or bottom. Psalm 52:1 reminds us that “The goodness of God endures continually.”

God is immutably good: His goodness cannot diminish or change, because He cannot change!

Encouraged by His Goodness 
We ought to be encouraged by the goodness of our God. I have always been amazed at the book of Nahum. It is a book that is dealing with the darkness of Nineveh. Nahum is a book of judgment and in the midst of all that darkness and judgment there is an amazing statement in verse 7, The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; And He knows those who trust in Him.” Since He is good, He is a stronghold for us even in difficult days, the key is to trust Him. Psalm 84:11 encourages us very much the same way, “For the LORD God is a sun and shield, The LORD will give grace and glory; No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.”

Display His Goodness 
As Christian we are to imitate God (Eph. 5:1); while we could never fully imitate His goodness in our lives, it is to be seen in the lives of those that have tasted and seen that God is good! We are reminded that we are to bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives. What is that fruit? But the fruit of the Spirit is “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” Here we see that one of the evidences of the fruit of the Spirit in our lives is goodness. This is love in action and it is actually a sacrifice to God as recorded Hebrews 13:15-16, “Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased”. Romans 15:14 teaches us that in order to be effective servants we need to be full of goodness just as our Master was! 

But we are not only to display this goodness to our fellow brothers and sister, but also to the lost, even those who may not like us as Christians! Paul wrote in Romans 12:20-21 “Therefore if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” In Galatians 6:9-10, he encourages us to, “not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.” 

So may we constantly be those who taste and see that the Lord is good and may His goodness be assimilated in such a way that it spills over into the lives of others for His glory!

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