The Goodness of God
Romans 11:22a, "Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God..."
Many of us were taught to return thanks at the dinner table by beginning our prayer like this: "God is great. God is good."
Some years ago a phrase became very popular and spread throughout the church around the world. It was used in a call-and-response pattern. The worship leader or pastor would shout, "God is good, all the time!" And the congregation would respond by exclaiming, "All the time, God is good!"
When things turn out well we exclaim, "Isn't God good!"
Is God good when things don't turn out the way we wanted them to?
Max Lucado writes, "When the cancer is in remission, we say "God is good.' When the pay raise comes, we announce 'God is good.' When the university admits us or the final score favors our team, 'God is good.' Would and do we say the same under different circumstances? In the cemetery as well as the nursery? In the unemployment line as well as the grocery line? In days of recession as much as in days of provision?"
Is God good when babies are born deformed; millions starve to death in Africa and India, when floods destroy lives and property, tornadoes destroy church buildings and people in the very midst of worship; when earthquakes kill hundreds; when the wicked seem to prosper and Christians are persecuted?
The Goodness of God
There are two different Greek words that translate our English word "goodness" in the NKJV. One is "agathosune" and the other is "chrestotes" Jesus showed agathosunewhen He cleansed the Temple and drove out those who were making it a bazaar; but He showed chrestoteswhen He was kind to the sinning woman who anointed His feet.
Agathosune is active - even aggressive - goodness. The English word “goodness” includes many pleasing qualities whereas this Greek word indicates one particular quality. It is more than an excellence of character; it is character energized, expressing itself in active good. Agathosuneis goodness, but it does not spare sharpness and rebuke to produce good in others. Thus God can correct, sometimes very severely, and it is goodness in action.
Goodness is more than an activity God undertakes. It is an essential attribute of His. The original Saxon meaning of our word "GOD" is The "GOOD." Jesus said to the rich young ruler, "... there is none good but God." Goodness in reference to God is the sum total of his attributes. God is originally, essential, eternally, and inherently good in Himself. He is the sum and source of all good. No man is good by nature as far as measuring up to or meriting favor with God, for there is none good, no, not one. Only those who are in union with Him by grace through faith in Christ are good and do good in an acceptable manner.
Ps 135:3, "Praise the LORD, for the LORD is good...": Ps 119:68, "You are good and do good ..."
God is good to all in some ways.
He is good in creation.
Ps 145:9, The LORD is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works.
Ps 86:5, For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee.
Ps 100:5, For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endures to all generations.
Ps 107:1, 0 give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endures forever.
He causes it to rain upon the just as well as the unjust ( Mt. 5:45).
Paul declares in Rom 2:4, that the unsaved experience "the riches of his goodness, and longsuffering, and forbearance" in order to lead them to repentance.
God is good to some in all ways.
He is good in conversion. And to those converted, He is good in all His ways to them because He makes all things work together for good to those who love Him and are the called according to His purpose - even when horrible, terrible things happen to them. When God's goodness confers happiness without merit it is called grace. When God's goodness sends is only Begotten Son into the world to die for our sins it is Love. When it bestows happiness and withholds punishment in the face of demerit it is mercy. The goodness of God in mercy withholds what we deserve and grace gives us what we don't deserve. Surely goodness and mercy follow God's people all the days of their life.
God is only good and always does good!
But how can we claim He is good and evil exist? If God is good and wants to eliminate evil, if God knows how to eliminate evil, if He has the power to eliminate evil, then why does evil still exist?
The problem of evil has caused many to either deny the existence of God, or declare that he is the devil. Skeptics believe that they have Christians in a Catch-22 situation -- God would eliminate evil if he could, but he can't; God could eliminate evil if he would, but he won't. So either God is helpless or heartless!
Many people believe that God is too good to send anyone to hell. James Mill expressed what many have felt: "I will call no being good, who is not what I mean by good when I use the word of my fellow creatures; and if there be a Being who can send me to hell for not so calling him, to hell I will go!"
What is the Biblical response to the problem of evil? God is good and always does good and everything He does is good and as we stated previously, He makes all things work for the good of His redeemed people. He is eliminating evil in His own way, on His own time schedule and will eventually quarantine all evil to the Universal Waste Products Storage Facilities, better known as Hell! Hell is God's cosmic rubbish dump, and all who go there become the garbage of the universe -- wasted and worthless. C.S. Lewis said, "To enter heaven is to become more human than you ever succeeded in being on earth; to enter Hell is to be banished from humanity. What is cast into Hell is not a man; it is remains."
On my birthday last year, November 4, my pastor, church family, and many friends from all over the country honored me with and unforgettable evening in which they demonstrated their love and appreciation for my 50 years in gospel ministry. Never have I been so honored and blessed in such a lavish, refreshing, encouraging manner.
Then on November 5, I was smitten with a rare illness (Ramsey Hunt Syndrome) that only 10 out of every 1 million Americans every contract. The last 4 months have been the most painful, frustrating, incapacitating months of my 71 years.
Many have asked me what I have learned from this experience. Among some of the things, the foremost is that what I have preached for years in respect to suffering and various trials, when believed, will sustain you in the dark night of both soul and body. At the top of this list of things learned would be the truth that GOD IS GOOD, even when the pain is excruciating, ongoing, and there are no medicines or treatments that can do one thing to fix the problem.
God in His goodness knows best and, as such, He knows that our world is the best way to the best possible world. Yes, there will be evil and suffering along the way, but He has already started to reverse the curse of Adam's fall with its attendant evil, suffering, and death through the cross-work of His Son. In light of this, we can make a faith-choice to rejoice with the apostle Paul when he wrote, "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us" (Romans 8:18).
God never stops doing good to his covenant people. And if an enemy is temporarily given the upper hand, we can look straight into the face of their threats and mistreatments and declare: "You mean evil against me, but God means it for good"(Genesis 50:20).
God is great and God is GOOD!I will trust His heart even when I cannot trace His hand!