|Volume 22 Number 3 March 2020
The Goodness of God
Samuel Osei Young
One of the most encouraging and challenging topics of the Bible to study is “The Goodness of God.” When we know that God is good, we can and must live with love and kindness in our hearts toward others. As Christians, we are to be good and to do good because God is good. What does it mean to say that God is good? Let us see what the Bible has to say on this topic.
Matthew 19:16-17 tells us of a conversation Jesus had with a rich ruler. “Now behold, one came and said to Him, ‘Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?’ So He said to him, ‘Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments’” (NKJV).
The Greek word used here and elsewhere in the New Testament for “good” is agathos. It means “beneficial in its effect, being good in its character or constitution.” No human being can make a claim to being wholly good in character. As Romans 3:10-12 states, “As it is written: ‘There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.’”
Only God is wholly good—God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Concerning Himself, Jesus said, “‘I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep‘” (John 10:11). Jesus is good, just as God the Father is good. We see the goodness of God made manifest in the life of Jesus. As Acts 10:38 tells us, “…Jesus of Nazareth…went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.” On one occasion, after Jesus healed the deaf man, the crowd gave the following response. “And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, ‘He has done all things well. He makes both the deaf to hear and the mute to speak’” (Mark 7:37). As God in the flesh, Jesus demonstrated the goodness of God in everything He did. In Jesus, we see the goodness of God in a living person! What does the goodness of God look like, and what does it mean for us?
The Goodness of God Is Merciful
- “And the Lord passed before him and proclaimed, ‘The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin…‘” (Exodus 34:6-7).
- “For His merciful kindness is great toward us, And the truth of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord!” (Psalm 117:2).
- “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)” (Ephesians 2:4-5).
- “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).
God, in His goodness, is merciful. Because He is merciful, He has made salvation possible through the blood of His Son, Jesus. This salvation is available to all who are willing to embrace it in obedient faith.
The Goodness of God Provides Help
- “Hear, O Lord, and have mercy on me; Lord, be my helper!” (Psalm 30:10).
- “God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1).
- “For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted” (Hebrews 2:18; see also Hebrews 4:16).
- “So we may boldly say: ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’” (Hebrews 13:6).
Jesus demonstrated this characteristic of God as He time and time again responded to cries for help by healing people of their diseases (Matthew 15:25-28; Mark 9:20-27). God has promised to help us in time of need if we are willing to come to Him in faith and are ready to receive what He has to offer.
The Goodness of God Gives Strength
- “The Lord is my strength and my shield; My heart trusted in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart greatly rejoices, And with my song I will praise Him” (Psalm 28:7).
- “The Lord will give strength to His people; The Lord will bless His people with peace” (Psalm 29:11).
- “But the salvation of the righteous is from the Lord; He is their strength in the time of trouble” (Psalm 37:39).
- “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).
God provides strength and guidance to those who recognize their need for Him. Too many people rely on their own strength and their own wisdom as they go through life. They end up failing miserably. As Jesus said in Matthew 5:3, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Heaven is reserved for those who recognize their need for God and are willing to receive His help.
The Goodness of God Offers Hope
- “And now, Lord, what do I wait for? My hope is in You” (Psalm 39:7).
- “Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, On those who hope in His mercy” (Psalm 33:18).
- “O Israel, hope in the Lord; For with the Lord there is mercy, And with Him is abundant redemption” (Psalm 130:7).
- “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).
- “To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27).
- “Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy” (1 Timothy 6:17).
In His goodness, God is a giver—a giver of hope and a giver of all that is good. In fact, every good gift comes from God (James 1:17; Matthew 7:7-11).
Responding to the Goodness of God
How should we respond to the goodness of God? The following five courses of action are given to us in the Bible.
- Trust and obey. This is where we must begin. God, in His goodness, has made salvation possible for every one of us. The only proper way to respond is in obedient faith. We must believe in God’s Son and in His sacrifice for us (Romans 10:17; Hebrews 11:6). We must be willing to confess our faith in Him before men (Matthew 10:32-33; Romans 10:10). We must be willing to repent of our sinful way of life and turn to the Lord (Luke 13:3, 5; Acts 2:38). Further, we must be baptized into Christ for the forgiveness (remission) of our sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16). Because God gave His Son to die for our sins, we can have our sins washed away by being united with Christ in baptism (Romans 6:1-4; Galatians 3:26-27).
- Follow God’s Instruction for Daily Living. We must seek to do everything we do in a manner to please God and bring glory to His name (Romans 12:1-2; 1 Corinthians 10:31; 2 Corinthians 5:9-10; 14:14-16). This means we need to study God’s Word daily so that we can understand and obey God’s instructions to us (Psalms 1:1-6; 119:11, 97, 105). It means imitating the example of Jesus (1 Peter 2:21; 1 John 2:6), and it means continuing to be faithful to the Lord until death (Revelation 2:10).
- Imitate God’s Goodness. As Christians, we should seek to do for others what God has done for us (Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:12-13; 1 John 4:11, 19). We should be imitators of God (Ephesians 5:1-2). When the world looks at Christians, it should be able to see that God is good!
- Pray for What is Good. God wants to bless us. He wants to give us what is good, but we have to be willing to ask for the good things, which are often not the things we may want at the time. In addition, we have to be ready to receive these good things (Matthew 6:9-13; 7:7-11; Luke 11:9-13; James 1:5-8; 4:2-3).
- Wait for the Lord. If we really believe that God is good, we must learn to trust in His goodness. God will take care of us and provide for our needs as He knows what is best at the time. He knows what is right. We must learn to wait on the Lord. “Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!” (Psalm 27:14). “Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; Do not fret — it only causes harm. For evildoers shall be cut off; But those who wait on the Lord, They shall inherit the earth” (Psalm 37:7-9).
Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, The Creator of the ends of the earth, Neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak, And to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, And the young men shall utterly fall, But those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:28-31)
God is good! Let us trust in His goodness and follow His good instructions. Let us allow His goodness to mold us and to make us more like Him every day! “The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, Slow to anger and great in mercy. The Lord is good to all, And His tender mercies are over all His works” (Psalm 145:8-9).
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