En route to Jesus’ final earthly entry into Jerusalem, an affluent young leader knelt before him, enquiring about eternal life. He addressed Jesus with the respectful title “Good Teacher” (Luke 18:18). Before answering the question, Jesus asked if he comprehended the gravity of the title he had utilised. Jesus emphasised that only God is genuinely good. He didn’t deny that the man used the designation correctly. But he wanted the man to ponder the nature of goodness.
Who is Good? What is Goodness?
Men and women are inclined to relativise goodness. Nelson Mandela and Mother Theresa were good. Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer weren’t. We say that this person has a good heart or so-and-so is a good child. But God is not good relative to another person or being or spirit. He is good. Absolutely good. Always good. Only good. God is the final standard of goodness and benevolence. Anything that mirrors his excellence and attributes is good.
God is the final standard of goodness and benevolence.
Jesus’ half-brother wrote that with God, there is no variation or shadow due to change (James 1:17). God is light, and there is no darkness in his person, will, actions or gifts. No yin-yang. No evil. Zero malice. Jesus unequivocally declared his deity throughout his ministry, emphatically calling himself the light of the world. Not a light; the light! Sceptics who heard of Jesus’ grandiose claims accused him of blasphemy, sought to stone him, and ultimately crucified him. Yet they could find no dirt on him.
The Goodness of God is Good News
The great exchange took place at Golgotha, our guilt for his goodness.
God is wholly good, and his goodness is holy. This is true despite our experience of sin, suffering, and death. Free will misled us down a path tangential to the narrow path to the Celestial City. It led us to the City of Destruction, the Slough of Despond, the Village of Morality, and the Wicket Gate. But God made himself nothing, being made in human likeness. The great exchange took place at Golgotha, our guilt for his goodness. Without his imputed moral rightness and virtue, we will never see the New Jerusalem. Our relative goodness will always miss the mark. We need a perfect God to declare us righteous and clean our hearts. Grimy stains removed. To make our hearts new. Reborn. Metamorphosised.
The Future is Bright with His Goodness
We desire good for ourselves, our families, our neighbours, our country, and the planet. The world God made was very good. And the new heavens and new earth will be likewise. It will reflect his character and attributes, and he will be at the glorious centre.
All God does is worthy of praise.
That he is good necessitates that all that he does is worthy of praise. The psalmists sang of their covenant God’s abundant goodness. And we are compelled to add our voices to theirs, extolling the Father of lights. Only the redeemed can sing:
“All my life, you have been faithful
All my life, you have been so, so good
With every breath that I am able
I will sing of the goodness of God.”
A great temptation is to question the goodness of God. But he is compassionate, gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He relents from sending calamity. Taste and see that God is abundantly good.