In this article/sermon you learn what God’s goodness is and how to respond to it.
Today we are going to take a look at the goodness of God and learn that God is big enough to work out everything for good. There is a little chorus we sometimes sing as Christians. It goes, “God is so good, God is so good, God is so good, He’s so good to me.” That song contains some profound theology that affects our lives every day.
We live in a time where God’s goodness is questioned. How can a good God let people go to hell? How can a good God allow sin and Satan to have so much freedom and cause so much damage? How can a good God let natural disasters and evil plots cause so much destruction and heart ache and pain? How can a good God let a man rape a woman, molest a child or murder an innocent victim? How can a good God let bad things happen to good people?
Since the Garden of Eden Satan has been trying to get people to question the goodness of God… to doubt and be confused about God’s generosity and kindness. To help remove the doubt and clear up some confusion I want us to examine the description of God’s goodness and our reaction to it.
The Description of God’s Goodness
Let’s begin with a description of God’s goodness. When we say God is good, what are we exactly talking about? Psalm 119:68 begins our answer, “You are good, and You do only good” (NLT). Simply put, God is good in His character and action. “You are good” that’s His character. “You do what is good” that’s His actions.
So… when we say that God is good we are saying that everything about Him is good. His love is good. His sovereignty is good. His power is good. His wrath is good. His justice is good. His grace is good. His mercy is good. His discipline is good. His decisions are good. What He does is good. What He does not do is good. He is good. Whatever He allows or causes was a good thing to do and He will work everything out for the good of His glory and for the good of His people. Why? Because God is good and what He does is good.
To help you understand God’s goodness and how it works I want you to know four things.
God’s goodness is not always pleasant
First, God’s goodness is not always pleasant. Ultimately, God isn’t good because He does good things for us. And God isn’t good because of something in us. God is good because of something in Him. God is good because He is good. Both God and His choices remain good, even when they may not feel or look particularly good to you.
In His wisdom and sovereignty, He decides the perfect times to respond to your cries of distress, to deliver you, and to display His greatness. God doesn’t have to respond at all, nor every time, nor even the same way every time. Everything He does or does not do is out of His sovereignty, grace, love and goodness.
God’s goodness is not always pleasant. For example, a good parent will make their child eat their vegetables, get in bed at a decent hour, make sure they have their homework done and their chores done. A good parent will also discipline or correct their child or teenager when necessary. All those things don’t feel good, but are good. Those are some good things that don’t feel good that a good parent does because good parents know that it’s for the kid’s own good.
It is similar with God. Our good God will cause or allow some good things to happen in our lives that don’t feel good and that we don’t like. Why does He do that? Because He knows it is good for us and ultimately it will help conform us to the image of His Son and bring Him glory. He is a good Heavenly Father.
A great example of this in the Bible is Joseph. At the age of 17 his brothers threw him into a pit in order to kill him, and then they decided to sell him into slavery. While in Egypt he worked for Potiphar. Potiphar’s wife falsely accused Joseph of attempted rape and was placed in prison where he lived for several years. One day the Pharaoh had a dream that disturbed him and Joseph was able to interpret the dream as a message from God about a famine that was coming. The Pharaoh gave Joseph charge of preparing for the famine, which gave Joseph the second highest command in the land. One day Joseph’s brothers came asking for food from the storage bins Joseph had prepared. When they recognized that Joseph was their brother they had betrayed many years earlier they became afraid. Joseph told them not to be afraid and then said this amazing statement about God’s sovereignty and God’s goodness. Joseph said, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people” (Genesis 50:20, NLT). What Joseph went through was not all pleasant, but it resulted in good. God’s goodness is not always pleasant.
God’s goodness is not equal
Second, God’s goodness is not equal. God is good to all in some ways, but He’s good to some in all ways. Matthew 5:45 gives an example of how God is good to all. Jesus says, “He gives His sunlight to both the evil and the good, and He sends rain on the just and the unjust alike” (NLT). You don’t have to be a Christian to get God’s rain. It doesn’t just rain on Christian’s yards. It rains on all because God has ordained that certain aspects of His goodness be available to atheists as well as to the committed Christians. God is good to all in some ways.
But God is good to some in all ways. God has provided Christians with the ability to enjoy His goodness in ways that the world can never appreciate. He’s given us His revelation, His Holy Spirit to guide us, and a divine perspective on life that opens our eyes to see and enjoy His goodness. That’s why Ephesians 1:3 says, “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ” (NLT). If you are a child of God, then you have already been blessed with every spiritual and supernatural blessing there is in heaven because of your relationship with Christ. God is good to some in all ways. Only a good God can do something like that.
God’s goodness is based on Him, not us
Third, God’s goodness is based on Him, not us. God sets the standard for what is good or not good. It doesn’t matter how good something looks or how good it makes you feel, if it’s not from God, it’s not good.
God is the standard of what is good because by nature God is good. All good things come from Him. Jesus implied this when He said in Luke 18:10, “Only God is truly good” (NLT) and the same is true when the Psalmist said in Psalm 34:8, “Taste and see that the Lord is good” (NLT). What is or isn’t good is determined by God because He is the only one who is perfectly and purely good.
If God says something is good then it’s good. We must be careful here because we often replace God’s standard of goodness with our own. Let me give some examples.
- We often replace God’s standard of goodness with an emotional standard of goodness. The cross was emotionally stressful for Jesus, but the cross was a display of God’s goodness toward mankind. If we identify everything that causes us stress, worry, or concern as not good we will miss many blessings, opportunities for growth, and ministries. All true ministries are good, but often stressful. Goodness or God’s standard of goodness is not determine by our feelings or emotions, but by what God says is good.
- We often replace God’s standard of goodness with a logical standard of goodness. The cross and crucifixion of Jesus does not make a lot of logical sense in the plan of redemption except for the fact that God declared that mankind’s sin had to be atoned for by a perfect lamb, His Son. Sometimes good things that are hard and difficult don’t make sense. God’s standard of goodness is not based on our ability to understand or not understand, to make sense of or not make sense of. If God declares it good, then it’s good.
God’s goodness blesses us through everything
Fourth, God’s goodness blesses us through everything. In other words, there is nothing that God cannot use to bless you with. Look at Romans 8:28, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” (NLT). According to God’s Word “everything” works together for the blessing, benefit and good of God’s people who love Him. Now the Bible is not saying that God prevents His people from experiencing things that can harm them. It is rather declaring that the Lord takes all that He allows to happen to His people, even the worst things… and turns those things ultimately into blessings. Why? Because He is a good and sovereign God.
Now listen carefully. This phrase “work together” refers to synergism. Synergism is the working together of elements to produce an effect greater than or completely different from, the elements if acting separately. For example, if you only poured sodium on your food you would get sick. If you poured only chloride on your food it would make you sick. However, sodium and chloride mixed together is what makes ordinary table salt, which your body needs. That’s synergy, that’s “working together” for good. It’s the same way with raw eggs, flour, baking soda, water, oil, and 450 degrees of heat. Mix those together and put it in an oven and you get a cake. That’s synergy. That’s what “working together” means.
So… God is able to take “everything,” your sin, your failures, your successes, the sin in the world, the good in the world, your helpful experiences, your hurtful experiences, what you have gone through, going through and about to go through and have them “work together” in such a way that it results in your good. Why? Because He is a sovereign and good God.
Our Response to God’s Goodness
Since God is this incredible and awesome good God… how should we respond to Him? What should our reaction be knowing that God is good and works all things out for good? How should we respond to a God that outrageously demonstrates His goodness through His generosity toward us.
God’s goodness produces our repentance
First, God’s goodness produces our repentance. Repent of your unbelief. Look closely at Romans 2:4, “Do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?” (NKJV). The Bible is asking, “Do you think that all the good that came in your life was because you’re an incredibly nice person who made God’s special list? Has He been doing this for you because you deserve it?” The answer is no.
God wants you to know that He has been good, kind, loving, and generous with you for one specific purpose… to lead you to repentance. He has been drawing you with goodness, not threats. The word “repentance” means “to have a change of mind,” or “to turn around.” We are to see God’s goodness and have a change of mind that leads to a change of direction that leads to a changed life.
For the unbeliever, this means that God’s blessing in your life, His patience with you and all the good things that have happened to you have all been for the purpose of you coming to a point where you repent of your sin and give your life to Jesus Christ. The greatest act of goodness that God ever did was sending His Son to die for you on the cross so that you would not have to go to hell, but could go to heaven. Repent of your sin and turn to Christ.
God’s goodness produces our goodness
Secondly, God’s goodness produces our goodness. We do good because God is good. God wants to do acts of goodness through us. Let’s take a look at what the Bible says about us doing and reflecting God’s goodness.
- In 3 John 1:11 we are told to, “Follow only what is good. Remember that those who do good prove that they are God’s children, and those who do evil prove that they do not know God” (NLT). When you are doing good and doing what God approves of then you are showing and demonstrating that you belong to God and are a follower of Jesus.
- In 1 Peter 2:21 we are told, “For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in His steps” (NLT). Remember, God’s goodness is not always pleasant. But you are “called,” assigned, and drawn toward doing good. The Holy Spirit in you draws you and calls you to acts of goodness.
- In Titus 3:14 we are told, “Our people must learn to do good by meeting the urgent needs of others” (NLT). Doing good is not something naturally we do. People must “learn” to do good. We must be taught, trained and given knowledge about what is good and what is not good actions toward people. This is part of why we study God’s Word because it teaches us what is good and what is not good.
- In Hebrews 13:16 we are told, “And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God” (NLT). Because of our weaknesses, we often forget to do good. To “forget” can mean to overlook or simply not think about. We hear a need, but don’t think about how we could help. We see an opportunity to bless, but we don’t recognize it as an opportunity. We forget to do good.
- In Galatians 6:10 we are told, “Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone – especially to those in the family of faith” (NLT). This is interesting because here God is putting the spotlight on doing good to other believers. We should be looking for ways to bless each other, encourage each other, and build each other up.
- In 1 Thessalonians 5:15 we are told, “See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to all people” (NLT). This is in the context of when someone does something wrong to you like lie about you, slander your name, or steal from you or hurt you in some way. You will be tempted to pay back evil with evil in some way. God says “try to do good” toward them. He knows this will be tough for us but says attempt to be nice, strive to be forgiving, aim at acting good toward them. Try it!
God’s goodness produces our goodness. We are motivated to do good because God is good.
God’s goodness produces our peace
Third, God’s goodness produces our peace. You know that life is hard. Bad things happen to good people, and good things happen to bad people. But the Bible says in Psalm 31:19, “How great is the goodness You have stored up for those who fear you. You lavish it on those who come to You for protection, blessing them before the watching world” (NLT). As you obey God He will lavish on you His goodness. When you are coming to God for protection, you are usually concerned or stressed out about something. But God says at those times He will pour out His goodness on you.
Because of God’s goodness operating in your life, you can still experience peace in a stressful situation. This is why Jesus could face the crucifixion as calmly as He did. It was a bad situation, but God’s goodness was driving Him through it.
God’s goodness produces our thankfulness
Fourth, God’s goodness produces our thankfulness. Psalm 107:1 says, “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good” (NLT). God is a good gift giver. I want to become more and more the most thankful person on the planet. I want to give thanks in the morning (God thank you for giving me another day). I want to give thanks for all the big things and little things in life. God thank you for my health, thank you for my salvation, thank you for helping me grow spiritually, thank you for the ministry you have given me, thank you for my family, thank you for what you have brought me through, thank you for the flowers, thank you for this church, thank you for my friends, thank you for helping me get through the bad times. God, I just want to say thank you.
Psalm 107:2 goes on to say, “Has the Lord redeemed you? Then speak out! Tell others He has redeemed you from your enemies. For He has gathered the exiles from many lands, from east and west, from north and south” (vs. 2-3, NLT). Then for the next 40 verses the Bible describes all the good things that God did in order to bring His people together. When they got together what were they suppose to do? Worship God and give Him thanks.
Someone may say, “I don’t have to go to church to be a Christian.” You sure don’t. Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian. But if you are a grateful Christian, you will go there to celebrate God’s goodness. You won’t mind singing to His glory. You will shout it out. Why? Because He’s been good to you. When you recognize the goodness of God operating in your life then you can’t help but praise Him.
God is so good to us that it would take all eternity to count the ways He has blessed and given to us. The best thing we can do until He returns is to live a life of grateful devotion, obedience, faith and praise to Him in response to His abundant goodness.
God has been good to you. If you are not a believer I want you to think about how God has been good to you. Maybe you are married to a Christian spouse, given you Christian parents, Christian friends, Christian kids. God is reaching out to you with His goodness. The job you have, that God’s goodness at work. All the blessings you have, that’s God’s goodness at work. Even the bad things that have happened either by your decision or someone else’s… God allowed to get your attention and that’s a good thing. Let God’s goodness lead you to Him. Give your life to Him today.
Christian, maybe you are going through a difficult time and you need to rest in God’s goodness knowing that what you are going through will work out for good. Maybe you need to pray and ask God, “Heavenly Father, I am going through a rough time right now. I don’t understand why you allowed it to happen but I do know that I love you and you promised to work all things out for good. I’m going to trust you through it and give you thanks for being a good God.”