God is Good

God is good, all the time. All the time, God is good.

Since Don Moen and Paul Overstreet wrote and recorded a song by the title, God Is Good All The Time, this has become a popular greeting among church folk. And it speaks a great truth: God alone is good.

Luke 18.18-19 – A certain ruler asked him (Jesus), “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone . When we first read this, we see nothing wrong with the ruler calling Jesus good. But we must realize that the ruler does not know Jesus as the Son of God.

The ruler has sought Jesus out as a teacher. He has a question for Jesus; he want to know how to inherit eternal life. He believes Jesus is the teacher who can answer his question and so he addresses Jesus as “Good teacher.” It is a sign of respect, a sign that he is impressed with Jesus’ teaching. They are even words of flattery – you are a good teacher, you know what you are talking about, and so I am choosing to come to you to have my questions answered. Jesus is not flattered; there is a bit of rebuke in Jesus’ response, “No one is good-except God alone.”

We have the benefit of knowing who Jesus is in reading this passage. He is God and so he is good. But this man, does not know this and so it is not acceptable to call any teacher good, for God alone is good.

Yin Yang is a symbol from Chinese philosophy. Everything has its opposite. And in everything there is a trace of the opposite. There is a little evil in any good; there is a little good in evil. This is not true of God. God is good. He is only good. There is no trace of evil in God. In this respect, as Jesus says in the passage, God alone is good.

Good: pleasant, agreeable, excellent, rich, appropriate, glad, happy, prosperous, good understanding, kind, right, a good thing, benefit, welfare.

The Scripures
1 Timothy 4.4 everything God created is good. (See Gen 1) Deuteronomy God is bringing Israel to a good land.

Joshua 23.14 not one of all the good promises God gave has failed

Hebrews 6.5 goodness of the Word of GodGospel is the Good News

Romans 8.28 God works for the good of those who love him

Romans 12.2 God’s will is good, pleasing and perfect

Philippians 2.13 God works in you for his good purpose

Ps 13.6 I will sing to the Lord, for he has been good to me.

Ps 25.7 Remember not the sins of my youth… according to your love remember me, for you are good, O Lord.

Psalm 31.19 how great is your goodness …

Psalm 116.12 Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.

Ps 118.1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.

Ps 119.68 You are good, and what you do is good; teach me your decrees.

Many of these psalms are psalms of thanksgiving, which come after the psalmist has gone through a difficult time and God has heard the psalmist cry and delivered him. The psalmist is not free of hardship, but sees God’s goodness in the midst of the ups and downs of life.

We benefit from God’s discipline
Psalm 119.71 It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.

Hebrews 12.7-11 An earthly father disciplines. Discipline is expected and if done appropriately they are respected for it. They do their best; their discipline falls short; it is not perfect. But God’s discipline is perfect through his perfect wisdom and knowledge. He knows what is best and what he does is motivated by his concern for our well being. “God disciplines us for our good.” Not because he is good and we are not. Not because we deserve his wrath. This has nothing to do with wrath or punishment. It has nothing to do with him being all-powerful and having to prove his power over us. It is discipline done in love. It all has to do with our well being. It’s about us and what is best for us.

And in this process, we actually become more like God, his character is being nurtured and birthed in us, shared with us. Hebrews 7 continues in verse 13b so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed. God is not a God who kicks us when we are down. He is a God who lifts us up; he brings healing and wholeness; He is a God who wants us to grow strong in Him, strong in our reliance upon his strength and trust in his goodness.

Those who have suffered failure in life, actually fair better in life. They do not fear failure. They are willing to take risks, rather than play it safe. John Maxwell says when you fail, stay down there long enough to learn something from your failure. Too many times we get up, we shake ourselves off, hope no one saw us, and go on like nothing happened.

The account of Joseph
Genesis 37-50. Joseph and the many-colored coat. Joseph was the favorite son of Jacob, which caused his other brothers to hate him. To make matters worse, Joseph had dreams about his brothers bowing down to him, as if he would reign over them. This caused them to hate him all the more. They were going to kill him, but instead sold him into slavery (but told his father that he was killed by a wild animal.)

Joseph ended up in Egypt. The Lord allowed him to enjoy success. He first served one of Pharaoh’s officials, until his wife made the moves on him and he got the blame and was sent to prison. He could tell the meaning of dreams and his hopes went up and down with promises to be released. Finally one day, the Pharaoh had a dream and no one could tell the meaning of it. It was remembered that Joseph could tell the meaning of dreams and he was called on. The dreams revealed that there was to be a great famine in the land. This was revealed so that the people could prepare in advance for the time of famine. Pharaoh put Joseph in charge of his household and he was second only to Pharaoh in power.

And so through a series of what looked like bad events in Joseph’s life, he was able to save many people, including his own family who traveled to Egypt to purchase food during the famine. Because of the famine Joseph was reconciled with his family. Joseph says to his brothers: You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.

Genesis 50.20 (see also Genesis 45.5-7) So we see that God works his good, saving plan through the evil, sinful plan of Joseph’s brothers. The guidance of God is stressed in this account, but nothing more explicit is said. It remains a mystery. “Even when no man could imagine it, God had all the strings in his hand.” (Von Rad)

This requires trust in God; a trust in God’s goodness is required, even when we cannot see the goodness from the trial or the hard time we are going through. We must trust that God is at work for good, even when we cannot see that good.

The invitation to taste the goodness of the Lord
Taste and see that the LORD is good. Psalm 34.8a. Action on the part of the believer required. Suggests that we must act in order to perceive the greater delivering action which is Gods. Requires movement; we must taste, to release the goodness that is stored up for us. Taste a new food, see if it is good. Someone may tell you it is good, but you don’t know unless you taste it yourself.

Joseph was obedient in action. As the official’s servant, even though he was a servant, he was faithful. In prison, the warden put Joseph in charge of all the other prisoners. He basically did the wardens job. Things didn’t look good for Joseph when he was a prisoner, but that did not influence his actions, his character or his trust in God. He was put in prison because his character was questioned, but he maintained high character. Joseph didn’t know it, but while he ran the prison, he was in training to run the whole country.

God’s goodness pursues us always
Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life. Psalm 23.6a. There is action on God’s part. God pursues us, he chases us down with his goodness. Again, this psalm is used to bring comfort in some of the lowest times of our lives, as the psalmist talks about the God who leads us safely through the valley of the shadow of death.

This is the same God who has filled the psalmist’s cup to overflowing, overflowing with blessing, overflowing with goodness. The psalmist speaks out of experience of God’s goodness in the past, his goodness in the present and a confidence of God’s goodness in the future. This psalm ends with words of God pursuing us – not just following, not just offering, not being passive, but actively pursuing us – with his goodness and with his loving kindness.

God is active in our lives. He doesn’t just leave us out there on our own. He is active for our good. Even if we are not convinced of his goodness, his goodness is following after us. He wants to overtake us with his goodness. He wants us to be convinced of his goodness in our lives.

God wants us live declaring, God is good, all the time. All the time, God is good.

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