As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good–except God alone. Mark 10:17-18
God is not only absolutely truthful, but He is also all-good (Omni-benevolent). It is impossible for Him to lie. (Heb. 6:18), and He is love by His very nature (1 John 4:16).
It is debated among theologians whether goodness and love are the same thing or whether they are different. And, if different, whether love is an attribute of God or an activity of God. Some say that goodness is an attribute of God and that love is act of His goodness. But 1 John 4:16 says God is love, seemingly applying the term to His essence.
But, the question still lies on the table, “Is He a Good God?” As we look at the world around us, for so many of us good is defined only by our circumstances.
Do we measure God’s goodness the same way we measure each others?
If your answer is no and the bible says; If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also. 1 John 4:20-21
If “love” is defined as “willing the good of its object,” then for all practical purposes “love” and “goodness” can be treated synonymously. Literally, the word omnibenevolent means “all-good.” Biblically, the basic Hebrew term for “love” used of God means “goodness,” “affection,” “good-will,” “loving-kindness” or “tender loving-kindness.” The Greek word agape used of God’s love means “benevolence,” a self-less “sacrificial” love. Theologically, God’s omnibenevolence refers to His infinite or unlimited Goodness.
If love and goodness can be treated synonymously and God says, “he who love Him must love his brother also.” What happens when we don’t like people because they don’t do the things we think they should do and our feelings change toward them? What happens when we don’t treat people the same because the good circumstance changed?
Let’s be real, the way we treat people is mostly determined by how good they are to us. Friendships are determined mostly by what one person thinks of another, but when that person doesn’t live up to the expectation the relationship becomes less desirable. Most marriages are formed because of desires, needs, feelings or financial security. But, what happens so often is when the goodness is not so good or is taken for granted; the desire to love is questioned.
Jesus said, “no one is good – except, God alone.” But, so often our circumstances in life change our relationship with God or defy His goodness.
February 24, 2008 in “Our Daily Bread” titled “God is Good” it reads the phrase “God is good, all the time; all the time, God is good” is repeated by many Christians almost like a mantra. I often wonder if they really believe it or even think about what they’re saying. I sometimes doubt God’s goodness—especially when it feels as though God isn’t hearing or answering my prayers. I assume that if others were more honest, they’d admit they feel the same way.
The serpent planted a doubt in Eve’s mind about whether God had been good to her and had her best interest at heart. He said, “God knows that in the day you eat of [the fruit] your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Gen. 3:5). Satan tried to convince her to believe that God was holding out on her and not giving her something really good—more knowledge.
Do you feel as though God isn’t answering your prayers? Are you tempted to doubt His goodness? When I feel this way, I have to remind myself that my circumstances aren’t the barometer of God’s love and goodness—the cross is. He has shown how good He is by giving His only Son Jesus to die for our sin. We can’t rely on our feelings. But day by day as we choose to trust Him more, we learn to believe with confidence that God is good—all the time. — Anne Cetas
In all of our circumstances we have to learn to trust God even when life hurts, because He is still good in spite of. Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. James 1:2-5
One of the many fascinating events in nature is the emergence of the Cecropia moth from its cocoon — an event that occurs only with much struggle on the part of the moth to free itself. The story is frequently told of someone who watched a moth go through this struggle. In an effort to help — and not realizing the necessity of the struggle — the viewer snipped the shell of the cocoon. Soon the moth came out with its wings all crimped and shriveled. But as the person watched, the wings remained weak. The moth, which in a few moments would have stretched those wings to fly, was now doomed to crawling out its brief life in frustration of ever being the beautiful creature God created it to be.
What the person in the story did not realize was that the struggle to emerge from the cocoon was an essential part of developing the muscle system of the moth’s body and pushing the body fluids out into the wings to expand them. By unwisely seeking to cut short the moth’s struggle, the watcher had actually crippled the moth and doomed its existence.
The adversities of life are much like the cocoon of the Cecropia moth. God uses them to develop the spiritual “muscle system” of our lives. As James says, “The testing of your faith through trials of many kinds] develops perseverance,” and perseverance leads to maturity of our character.
We can be sure that the development of a beautiful Christ like character will not occur in our lives without adversity. The Goodness of God pushes us into His goodness that should be reflected in our relationships toward others regardless of our circumstances.
“God is good all the time, all the time he is good.” Let it be a meaningful part of your Christianity and not a mantra.
We may think we have true Christian love (or know God is good all the time) until someone offends us or treats us unjustly. Then we begin to see anger and resentment well up within us. We may conclude we have learned about genuine Christian joy until our lives are shattered by an unexpected calamity or grievous disappointment. Adversities spoil our peace and sorely try our patience. God uses those difficulties to reveal to us our need to grow, so that we will reach out to Him to change us more and more into the likeness of His Son.