Text: Genesis 1:31; 1 Chronicles 16:34 | Listen to Message
Imagine for a moment a great and all-powerful God who was not good. He could – and probably would – use his infinite power in a capricious or cruel manner. He would be feared, but not loved or trusted. We would cower under his authority, but we would not desire to know him and enjoy him. So what a remarkable gift it is that God is both great and good!
Good: God is both the standard and the source of all that is beautiful, virtuous, and beneficent.
Key Verses: Genesis 1:31; 1 Chronicles 16:34; Psalm 34:8; 84:11; Lamentations 3:25; Micah 6:8; Romans 8:28; Titus 3:4-5; James 1:17
Armchair philosophers love to discuss “The Problem of Evil” – i.e. If God is good, and God is sovereign, then where did evil come from?
Why don’t people talk so much about “The Problem of Good”? If the entire Universe is the result of a cosmic accident, where time + random chance gave birth to life, then how are there categories of “good” and “evil” in the first place? Who’s to say that anything is “right” or “wrong”? And why, in a Universe where entropy, disorder, and death are inevitable, is there still so much truth, beauty, order, and meaning? Naturalism seems to say, “Well, that’s just the way it is.” The Bible says it’s because the eternal God is a God of truth, beauty, order, and meaning. In other words, the source of all good is the goodness of God (Genesis 1:31; James 1:17).
When we think of goodness, we probably think first of moral goodness: being kind and generous, telling the truth, doing justice and mercy, choosing to love and forgive, and so on. And that’s certainly a critical part of what it means to be good.
But God is good in other ways as well:
- God is the source of aesthetic He makes beautiful things.
- God is the source of practical He makes useful things.
- God is the source of qualitative He makes excellent things.
- God is the source of philosophical He makes meaningful things.
In each of these areas, God doesn’t follow a standard; he is the standard. Nowhere do we see this more clearly than in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
So how do we respond to a God who is only and always good?
1. Learn the goodness of the Lord.
We tend to have our own standards of goodness that don’t necessarily reflect God’s heart. For us, pain is bad, but pleasure is good. Waiting is bad, but instant gratification is good. Serving is bad, but leading is good. Reliance is bad, but being in control is good. Poverty is bad, but prosperity is good.
We need to study God’s Word to learn how he defines goodness. And we need to “taste and see that the Lord is good” through firsthand experience (Psalm 34:8).
2. Trust the goodness of the Lord.
God is good all the time. And God works everything together for good. But we struggle to believe both. Like many characters in the Bible, we need to learn to wait for God’s good plan to unfold in his time (Lamentations 3:25). We need to stand firm in our hope that God is and does good.
3. Practice the goodness of the Lord.
As followers of Christ, we must actively do good – not as a means of earning God’s favor but because we already have it. We must pattern our lives after the goodness of Christ and let him bear his fruit of goodness in us by his Spirit (Galatians 5:22). As stewards of God’s creation, we ought to follow in his steps by making beautiful, useful, excellent, meaningful things. Whenever we do this in our vocations or hobbies, we are glorifying the goodness of God.
4. Celebrate the goodness of the Lord.
Cultivate a heart of gratitude and praise. Look for what God is doing that is good and thank him for these things. Boast in him to others. Feast your heart and mind – and even body – on his good and perfect gifts.