God’s Goodness

Are you the kind of person who cringes when someone—a Christian, undoubtedly—answers a simple, “How are you,” with “I’m blessed!” or “If I was any better. . .I’d have to be twins!” Hey. . .if those are your responses, I’m not hating on you. I’m just pointing out that for most people under 50, lines like these don’t feel like genuine answers.

Here’s another one: “God is good. ALL the time!”

Heard it? Said it? Love? Cringe?

Here’s the problem. It’s true. 100% biblically sound and theologically orthodox. God IS good. ALL the time.

Now I’m not the type who typically deploys such shibboleths in ordinary conversation. (I am, however, the type who uses words like “deploy” and “shibboleths,” which is also problematic.) But we have a bigger issue here. Whether we use a meme-worthy slogan or theologically rich language, we don’t really believe God is good. All. The. Time.

 How do I know this? I read e-mail.

God's GoodnessEven in inter-office mail here at The JOY FM, when we share stories of excellent ratings, faithful giving, or growing ministry, someone often responds with, “God is good!” Just a few weeks ago, a tornado ripped through Georgia and destroyed our 1600-foot radio tower. 93.3 FM, which covers tens of thousands of listeners in the greater Atlanta area, was instantly knocked off the air. It will take lots of time and money to repair. Good is good. . .all the time?

Our problem isn’t with the actual goodness of God. It’s with his perfection. Goodness is relative among humans. Both Tom Brady and Mother Theresa can be considered “good,” but in very different senses. God’s goodness isn’t relative. It’s absolute.

That means God is good whether we are rolling in blessings or sifting through ashes. He is good in plenty, and just as good in want. His love is good. His justice is good. His judgment is a good judgment. His wrath is no less good than his love. Good’s goodness is no more real in miracle answers to prayer than under a “frowning providence,” as the Puritans used to say, when your prayers seem to go unanswered.

The Apostle Paul testified to the unwavering goodness of God when he wrote, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). His hardships were no evidence that God is not good. In fact, he saw a direct link between the power of God and his suffering: “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

Jesus never wavered on the goodness of God, even when his cousin John (the Baptist) was in prison, about to be beheaded by a corrupt government official (Herod Antipas). John himself seems to have doubted whether Jesus was the one sent by God, the Messiah who would restore justice and bring God’s good rule. “Are you the one who is to come?” John’s disciples asked Jesus, “or shall we look for another?” Jesus answered, citing the miracle-signs he was performing for people all over Judea: “Tell John what you have seen.” He did NOT—in his perfect goodness—rescue John or overturn the bad decisions of a corrupt government. “Blessed is the one who is not offended by me” (Luke 7:20-23).

What about you? Are you offended by God’s dealings, when your plans don’t turn out the way you expected, when your family fractures, when expectations are unmet—prayers “unanswered”—or when it seems like God isn’t blessing or turning things around?

God is good. ALL the time.

Here are a couple of places in the Bible where you can get a picture of the goodness of God: Genesis 1:31; Psalm 145:9; Nahum 1:7; Matthew 7:11; and one verse that is not to be missed:

James 1:17

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.  

Let’s learn to rejoice in God’s gifts and be secure in God’s perfect goodness, in hardship or in health, in plenty or in persecution. God IS good. All the time.

Bill Martin