The Lord Jesus said to a wealthy young ruler, “None is good, save one, that is, God” (Luk 18:19). The often-used cliché “God is good” is usually used when good things happen to us. In fact, many believers limit these words to times when good things happen to them. “God was so good and gave me my dream job.” “God is good and gave me my health back.” “God is good and we had a really good year in the business.” But what is said when a sister in the assembly learned she had a tumor, and when they went to operate, it was inoperable? What of the situation when a brother loses his business in a financial crisis? What of the parents, for years unable to have a baby, who, when a child finally comes, are told at its birth that there is little hope of life? How is God good when I want my family to serve the Lord and tragedy tears my family apart? Is God only good when good things happen? The obvious answer is “No.” It does beg the question: “Is God still good, even when bad things happen?”
We do read the words “God is good” in our English Bible. In Psalm 73:1 Asaph says, “Truly God is good to Israel.” Another psalm says, “Good and upright is the Lord” (25:8). “Good” is a word that is better understood than described. It speaks of moral virtue. Synonyms that come to mind when we think of the word “good” are pleasant, satisfying, enjoyable, beneficial and useful. It is a word that describes a person, and also a thing. It is usually used as an adjective but is now also used informally as an adverb. Instead of responding, “I am fine” to the question, “How are you?” now it is common to hear, “I’m good.”
It is of utmost importance to know that the character of God is good. God is always, only good; nothing but good can come from Him. When we say God is intrinsically good, we mean that it is an essential part of His nature. His whole being is good and nothing bad, wicked or evil can tarnish Him. It is just natural that God is good. His goodness is infinite, as is every other character trait in God. God has no weak points and no strong points. When Paul lists goodness with forbearance and long-suffering in Romans 2:4, they are exactly, infinitely the same in moral value. When he contrasts goodness and severity, both are 100% true without one taking anything from or contradicting the other (Rom 11:22). God’s goodness, like any other attribute, is absolute, which means it has no weakness or change in it.
The creation of God is good. As we read through the first chapter of Genesis, it is remarkable to notice that the word “good” is used seven times. The light, the dry land, the sea and the creatures are all described as “good.” Finally, Genesis 1:31 says, “every thing that he had made … was very good.” The goodness of God became evident right at the beginning of the world. It is hard to imagine a world that only had good in it – there was no fear of something bad happening; there was no dread of danger lurking somewhere. The entire universe was good and everything about it was satisfying to the human heart. Every thought, and every word, and every deed was nothing but good!
We must consider the contrast between good and evil. The knowledge of good and evil came by way of the Evil One convincing Eve to choose what was not good. God made man so that by his own free will he would choose good and not evil. It means that man would be satisfied with the choice he made and not need to repent of a wrong (evil) choice.
The conduct of God is good. There are several things that God’s goodness does for us, according to the Scriptures. The first thing is that God’s goodness leads us to repentance. How good of God to see ruined sinners and want them to be good like Him. His goodness does not become defiled by reaching out to a sinner. In fact, upon salvation His goodness becomes part of the believer because of the divine nature. God then gives us the capability of a good conscience, good works, good fruits, and many good things.
The conduit of God’s goodness is now through human channels. Galatians 5:22 includes goodness as part of the fruit of the Spirit. In Ephesians 5:9, the apostle Paul gives us another set of triplets as he indicates to us the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness and truth. God wants to show His goodness to humankind and He is doing it by the fruit of the Spirit in the believer. “Good” is the word the Scriptures use to describe the will of God for a believer, the activity of a homemaker, the conversation of the Christian, the fidelity of a servant, the work of an elder, and many other things related to the life of a Christian.
If God is good, why is there so much evil in the world? Let us be clear that evil did not come from God. While it is true that He allowed evil to happen in the world, He did not make it. Evil came when man chose evil against the goodness of God. To this very day the words of the psalmist ring true: “Depart from evil, and do good” (34:14). There are times when bad things happen to good people. In good times or in bad times, in trials or triumphs, in temptations or toil, God is always good. May the Lord help us to live life seeing that God is good.
“How good is the God we adore,
Our faithful, unchangeable Friend,
Whose love is as great as His power
And knows neither measure nor end.”