We all have varying opinions on what tastes good. Some like it salty, others like it sweet. Some crave spicy, others prefer it cool. As unique people, we have varying opinions on that looks good, feels good, sounds good and smells good.
But these are subjective.
What is actually good?
The Bible is really clever and helps us to answer this question in an important way.
Scripture doesn’t answer this question with a list of what is good, but with one defining Who.
God is good.
He is the standard. God is good and he always acts accordingly.
Which brings us to the definition of Providential governance. Regardless of what we happen to feel about the political governments seen over the years, God’s general governance in this world is about action. It is defined as God’s “actual execution, within time, of his plan devised in eternity.”
Basically, God sees ahead and actually does something about it. He acts. He acts in nature and in the events of human history, participating in bringing the metanarrative of this world toward his intended end/new beginning, of which everybody is a part.
And because of his nature, being good, we must continually connect his actions with his goodness.
But sometimes those connections seem hard to make moment to moment. For example, the way God acts in scripture does not always make people feel “good.” Sometimes God’s goodness leads him to discipline people and nations because, like a parent, he desires the best for them (see Hebrews 12:10).
Countless times God asks people to face danger because his good purposes for them will be accomplished through it – like when David faced Goliath or when Esther approached the King uninvited – the people grew in their knowledge, perception and trust in God through this “dangerous” situation, and God’s good purposes for them were accomplished.
In the New Testament, we see Paul and the early church facing many dangers as they followed God’s will, and yet God’s good purposes were accomplished through them in dramatic, life-changing ways.
Most pointedly, may we never forget that it was God’s will that led Jesus to the cross to be crucified. And yet, it was very good. The work of Christ is a significant act of God’s general government in this world. When Christ came, he made salvation available for all and ushered in the age of the Church for all who would receive him.
All these things show us that God is working out his good purposes in real-time. God sees ahead what is needed and provides, according to his goodness, what is needed to bring about his purpose; that we would be provided for in every way to hear and answer the call of Christ and, by his grace, come into God’s presence and have a relationship with him.
- Take some time to read through the survey of Bible verses provided about God’s goodness. Which of these verses speak to you most profoundly in the face of uncertain days, danger or trial? Why?
- How can you practice the presence of God?
- In what ways should a Christian come to decide what is good? What was would a humanist decide what is good? What distinctions can be made between a Christian and a humanist in knowing what is good?
- Is there a time when God acting according to his goodness has not felt “good” in your life? What role does the Christian community play in helping one another in these times?
A survey of Bible verses on the topic of Goodness:
Genesis 1:31- God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.
Exodus 34:6– The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth.
1 Chronicles 16:34– Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.
Ezra 3:11- And they sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the Lord: “For He is good, for His mercy endures forever toward Israel.”
Nehemiah 9:20– You also gave Your good Spirit to instruct them, and did not withhold Your manna from their mouth and gave them water for their thirst.
Psalm 23:6- Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Psalm 25:8- Good and upright is the Lord.
Psalm 27:13– I would have lost heart unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
Psalm 31:19-20– Oh, how great is Your goodness, which You have laid up for those who fear You, which You have prepared for those who trust in You in the presence of the sons of men! You shall hide them in the secret place of Your presence from the plots of man; You shall keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues.
Psalm 33:5– He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.
Psalm 34:8– Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him!
Psalm 69:16– Hear me, O Lord, for Your lovingkindness is good; turn to me according to the multitude of Your tender mercies.
Psalm 100:4-5– Be thankful to Him and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting.
Psalm 107:8-9- Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! For He satisfies the longing soul and fills the hungry soul with goodness.
Psalm 119:68– You are good and do good; teach me Your statutes.
Psalm 143:10– Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God; Your Spirit is good. Lead me in the land of uprightness.
Psalm 145:5-7– I will meditate on the glorious splendour of Your majesty, and on Your wondrous works. Men shall speak of the might of Your awesome acts, and I will declare Your greatness. They shall utter the memory of Your great goodness and shall sing of Your righteousness.
Psalm 145:9– The Lord is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works.
Nahum 1:7– The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knows those who trust in Him.
Matthew 7:11– If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!
Mark 10:18– No one is good but One, that is, God.
Romans 8:28– And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
James 1:17- Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.