Why the goodness of God is good
**Disclaimer: You might say that what you’re about to read is a “slam” against a commonly-used Christian phrase (which you likely use yourself). I just want to say on the outset that this post is not a call for us to stop using this phrase, and it’s not a slam against people who use it… it’s a call for us to keep using it and think about what we’re saying. I will use some generalizations that may or may not frustrate you at first, but I want you to “hear me out” so that I might have a chance to explain myself fully.
The phrase to which I’m referring is “God is good.” Let me tell you how I typically use that phrase (see if you fit the “Joe Eaton motif” in this regard). I typically use this phrase after something really great (humanly speaking) has happened to me. In saying it, I mean, “God did what I wanted Him to do for me and I am happy.” And as I’ve observed “Christian-speak” through social media and face-to-face interactions over the years, it seems to me that most believers use those words like that, too.
I was thinking the other day what life would be like if God’s goodness was as I so often paint it to be. What if God was only good when He worked in a way that I expected, or did what I wanted Him to do? My guess is that if you looked back over your life, you’d discover, as I did, that the best things that God has done for you were usually the result of some circumstance that He brought into your life that you didn’t expect and wouldn’t choose for yourself.
One example of that for me is God giving me Spina Bifida. I can promise you that if I had had the chance to write the script of my life ahead of time, Spina Bifida would not have been part of the story. However, I now acknowledge my disability to be one of the greatest blessings of my life (you can read more about that in this post if you’d like). And there have been many more examples in my life of God using a circumstance that I never would’ve written into my story for my joy.
What I’m trying to say is this: you and I need to move away from the idea that the goodness of God is circumstantial. The Bible answers (at least) two key questions relating to this issue, and we need to get these truths clear in our minds.
First of all, who is God?
Answer (one of many ways you could say it): God is good.
Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever! – Psalm 107.1
The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; He knows those who take refuge in Him. – Nahum 1.7
Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. – 1 Peter 2.2-3
Second of all, what does God do?
Answer (again, one of many ways you could say it): God does good things. Here’s just one of several passages that I could use to make this point.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, in order that He might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom He predestined He also called, and those whom He called He also justified, and those whom He justified He also glorified. – Romans 8.28-30
Notice two things about those passages. First, the only thing that was said about God’s actions is that they are all good. Goodness is the essence of God’s character; He couldn’t be anything less. Second, everything that happens to a believer is good, because God caused it to happen and He has made that promise.
Just try to imagine your life if God only did what you thought was good. That would be terrible! If God was our puppet whose actions and character were determined by our desires, then we would have a far-less-than-appealing God. Our lives would be so much different, so much less joy-filled. Believer, our great hope is that God is not on our puppet strings; we’re on His puppet strings. And that’s the most joyful place we could possibly be. He’s writing chapters into our story that we would never write, and they are all for our benefit and happiness. Later you will look back on your life and testify that that is true.
Believer: whatever you’re facing today, put your hope in the unfailing, unchanging goodness of God. And know beyond a shadow of a doubt that He has nothing but good things in store for you… BECAUSE HE SAID SO. You can trust Him. You can bank on verses like Matthew 7.11.