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The Goodness of God
By Mary Craig
To examine for oneself what God says about Himself is to be exposed and exhilarated at the same time. God has revealed Himself to every human being by creation and providence. In the Bible, He reveals Himself as well by special revelation. God has also revealed Himself personally in His Son, Jesus Christ. Through the work of Godís Word and Godís Holy Spirit, you can know God "savingly," that is, as your own personal Savior, Lord, and Master, in coming to faith in Jesus Christ alone for your salvation.
Itís really difficult to trust someone you donít know very well. Itís difficult to turn over your life to someone if youíre not convinced they are truly "good," and that they have only your best interests at heart. Our imaginations of God do not provide import enough for us to put down, to put away false gods, to truly believe, rely upon, and trust Jesus as God Incarnate, and give Christ pre-eminence.
I have come to know God, and know Him more each day. My heart still cries out for the living God. With the Psalmist I plead: Teach me Your way, O Lord, and lead me in a smooth path, because of my enemies. Do not deliver me to the will of my adversaries; for false witnesses have risen against me, and such as breathe out violence. I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. (Psalm 27.11-13)
God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in His being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth. In His majesty, God transcends His creation. In His goodness, God condescends toward His creation.
The Bible uses different words for the concept of good and goodness. Tob (tohv) in Hebrew means whatever is right, pleasant, or happy. God declared the work of His hands in creation "good." In Greek, a word used for "good" is kalos (kal-oss). This word signifies that which is beautiful, pleasing, acceptable, excellent, attractive, honest, serviceable, that which is good in the aesthetic, physical and moral sense. Women, in Titus 2.3, are exhorted to be "teachers of the good." Another word is agathos (ag-ath-oss), a word meaning good in a physical and moral sense which produces benefits. Thus Paul could thank God as he remembered the Philippians "being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ." (Philippians 1.6) The good work of God who is good will see its completion. Indeed, Paul makes a remarkable statement in Romans 15.14: Now I myself am confident concerning you, my brethren, that you also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another. The word "goodness" here is agathosune (ag-ath-oh-soo-nay), a rare word that combines being good and doing good. In Christ we can abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. We can manifest a bountiful bent of the heart towards the good, willing and doing what is good. We can truly be kind, virtuous, beneficent, blessing others from a pure heart, a goodness that comes from God.
At the core, God is good. Since the fall, humanity suffers from hearts bent toward evil. We can come to Christ and have our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience as we draw near to God with a true heart (Hebrews 10.22); we can thus have clean hearts (Psalm 51); we can even have a new heart (Ezekiel 36.26, 2 Corinthians 5.17, 1 John 5.18). We can be born of God, born again, given a heart that bends toward God and toward good. We do this because God deals kindly and bounteously with all His creatures.
Godís goodness is perfect. His goodness encompasses His love, grace, mercy, pity, compassion, long-suffering, kindness, and other expressions of a tender and fatherly quality. God is ready to forgive, gives liberally and generously, does not upbraid those coming to Him for wisdom, and allows His blessedness to spill over onto us. His Name is El-Shaddai, the God Almighty of Blessing.
We find Godís goodness manifested in forgiveness, in His supply and bounty of blessing the fruit of labor, body, cattle, lands, etc. He preserves humankind and animals. He delivers from distress, gives good gifts, satisfies hungry souls, provides rain and sun to all, is slow to anger. Even the unthankful and evil receive from Godís goodness. However, those who would call upon Him, ask of Him, seek Him, wait for Him, desire HimÖthose who would continue in His goodnessÖfind even greater goodness and blessedness in their lives.
God is self-sufficient. Nevertheless, He wants relationship with us. He knows that it is not good that we be alone. He beckons us to hearken to His voice, to communicate, to taste and see that He is good. He has established a causal relationship between asking and receiving. He wants us to ask of Him, to give thanks, praise, exaltation to Him. We re to declare His works with rejoicing, to declare the mighty acts of His redemption, to know the joy of our salvation and His joy in the plan of redemption.
God calls us to repentance out of His kindness. He exhorts us to be wise, and not foolish. We are to come to Him and be reconciled, for why should we die? We are to behold the goodness and severity of God and not spurn Godís goodness lest He withdraw it (Romans 11).
We all like to be appreciated. We all like acceptance and approval. The best relationship to develop and in which to start this practice is our relationship with God. Appreciate the goodness of God. Thank Him for everything (Psalm 116). Marvel at His patience and long-suffering. Accept Him in all His being without picking and choosing which aspects of His nature you like and donít like. Approve His ways and find out what pleases Him. Do not trifle with Him.
Remember who God is. He isnít your "buddy" that is on an equal level with you. Neither is He some genie that you pull out of your pocket when you need Him that magically gets your needs met. Like it or not, Jesus Christ is Lord. God is in control, whether any person wants to recognize and submit to Him or not.
Neither is God like satan. God loves His own. God in His love does no harm because His love flows from a good, a holy heart. Satan lies, deceives, murders, defiles, and does great harm. Satanís heart is not good, and so the fruit of his heart destroys, harms, and does evil. Satan hates humanity. Remember, when the angels fell from heaven, cast out from the Presence of the Lord, God provided no way back for themÖno means of redemptionÖno salvation. Satan has an agenda, to get us to curse God and die (remember Jobís wife?) or to move us into a position where we come under the curse of God and die.
Donít ever think goodness dwells in the heart of satan. He hates people. He hates you. He wants to harm you. He will tell you every kind of lie and put in front of you all manner of temptation to turn you away from God and His Word to another "god" and other words. He tried to get Eve to mistrust God by challenging the authority of Godís Word. "Hath God said?" He wanted Eve to question that authority and come to doubt Godís goodness, care, protection, etc. Her mistake was entering into conversation with the devil in the first place!
Godís kindness leads to repentance. In His sovereign plan, God did provide a way back for fallen humanity. Be thankful there is a way out of destruction. For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You. (Psalm 86.5) Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and long-suffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? (Romans 2.4) In His bounty and goodness, in His graciousness, God took the initiative and provided what would meet, what would satisfy His demands for reconciliation with Him. He provided Jesus Christ as the way, the truth, and the life, that we might be reconciled with God and have all hostility, all enmity terminated. Itís in the mission statement of Mary Craig Ministries. The truth of Godís goodness can lead you to repent, to change your mind about God and Christ. Godís goodness can lead you to trust Him even when you have despaired, lost all hope of trusting anyone, any thing, and even yourself, again.
As you learn that you need never doubt Godís goodness which flows out and into His mercy, grace, and love, you will find peace for your soul and do your soul good. As you find the repentance that leads to life, you will find that fist closed in anger toward God opening. As you stop clutching tightly to your animosity towards all that you have judged of God and His ways, and open your hand, you will find yourself receiving from a generous God who gladly fills your hand and your heart, allowing His bounty to spill out onto you, and yes, likewise spilling over into the lives of others.
(Now friends, as I am sitting here sharing the goodness of God with you, writing this articleís first draft, the telephone rang. Fontaine Truck Equipment called to say that they signed a lease weíve been negotiating for months now. The lease represents income for my blind mother, now 88, and dependent upon this income. Just the day prior to our mission trip into Haiti, lease negotiations "died." I prayed that God would literally "raise the dead." Today He did! Remarkably, the manager of the Fontaine Truck Equipment here in Ft. Lauderdale, Willie Coyne, is a Christian. As we started the meeting to re-negotiate the lease these last few days or so, we opened that meeting with prayer. GOD IS GOOD! I have come to trust that it is so. God in the midst will do mighty acts of redemption. Trust Him not merely for the raising of dead negotiations, trust Him for the salvation of your soul. Well, back to my article.)
What scripture affirms about God the Father is equally affirmed about God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. God is good and good continually.
Why is our concept of God so important? Godís commands against having any other gods before Him and not making unto ourselves graven images is one answer. It is crucial to any relationship with Him. Learning of Godís goodness, of His grace and love for human beings, is the way out of destructionÖsatanís attempts to destroy us and our own. And how can we truly become a reflection of Godís glory, conformed to the image of Jesus Christ, without knowing what God is like?
"Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: but let him that glories glory in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord which exercises loving-kindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight," saith the Lord. (Jeremiah 9.23, 24)
Oh, how great is Your goodness,which You have laid up for those who fear You,
which You have prepared for those who trust in You in the presence of the sons of men!
You shall hide them in the secret place of Your presence from the plots of man;
You shall keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues.
Blessed be the LORD, for He has shown me His marvelous kindness in a strong city!
For I said in my haste, "I am cut off from before Your eyes";
Nevertheless, You heard the voice of my supplications when I cried out to You.
Oh, love the LORD, all you His saints!
For the LORD preserves the faithful, and fully repays the proud person
Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all you who hope in the LORD. (Psalm 31.19-24)
© 2000 Mary Craig Ministries, Inc.
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