What are you thinking about? Perhaps it’s some problem from the past week which is festering like an open sore. Perhaps it’s a relationship that you hope will bring you the happiness you’ve been craving for years. Perhaps it’s your latest status update on Facebook or Twitter. Perhaps you’re thinking about how you’re going to survive the changes brought about by COVID-19. Perhaps you’re thinking about what a perfect marriage would look like—the one you’ve always wanted. Perhaps you’re thinking about how you’re going to cope with your grief, loneliness, despair, abandonment, frustration, loss, etc.
Innumerable things (some legitimate and some not so legitimate) occupy our thoughts, competing for our attention. I want to suggest to you that one of our greatest needs is to fix our fluttering thoughts on God. There’s such an absolute perfection in His nature that nothing can be added to Him or subtracted from Him. Because He’s a perfect being, He’s satisfied in Himself. This means that His happiness lies in knowing Himself, loving Himself, and delighting in Himself. In short, we must set our minds on this good God (Psalm 119:68).1For more on this threefold analysis of God’s goodness, see George Swinnock, The Blessed & Boundless God (Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2014).
God is Essentially Good
That is another way of saying that God is goodness itself. The Bible compares Him to that good which is essential to us; He’s life, light, food, water, and rest (Psalm 36:9; 116:7; John 1:4, 9; 4:10; 6:51). The Bible compares Him to that good which is beneficial to us; He’s home, health, peace, fire, and refuge (Psalm 42:11; 57:1; 90:9–10; Zechariah 2:5; 2 Corinthians 13:11). The Bible compares Him to that good which is delightful to us; He’s wealth, honor, wine, joy, and pleasure (Job 22:24–25; Psalm 43:4; Isaiah 25:6; 33:21). God’s goodness is revealed in what He says: His truthfulness. It’s revealed in what He does: His faithfulness. It’s revealed in His condemnation of impenitent sinners: His righteousness. It’s revealed in His justification of penitent sinners: His lovingkindness.
God is Immutably Good
James says that God is “the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:17). This statement takes us back to the creation narrative, where Moses tells us that God made the lesser light and the greater light and the stars too (Genesis 1:3–5). These lights cast shadows as they move in their orbit. But God isn’t like that. There are no processes active within God’s nature that can cause Him to change; moreover, there are no forces outside of God’s nature that can cause Him to change. He declares, “I am the LORD, I do not change” (Malachi 3:6). God is immutable—forever the same. What He was, He is; and what He is, He will be. God’s life doesn’t change; He doesn’t grow older, nor does He grow wiser or stronger. God’s purpose doesn’t change; all that He does in time, He planned from eternity; and all that He planned in eternity, He carries out in time.
God is Beneficially Good
God is the source of all good, for “every good and perfect gift is from above” (James 1:17). How does God manifest His goodness toward us? He manifests it in creation: “And God saw everything he had made, and behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). He manifests it in providence: “The LORD is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made” (Psalm 145:9). Most importantly, He manifests it in redemption: “When the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his mercy” (Titus 3:4-5).
“God is good.” It’s easy to say when everything is going well. It’s not as easy to say in days of trouble. But we need to be clear on this: God is good when we walk in the sunlight, the breeze at our back, without a care in the world; and God is good when we crawl through dark days of terrible loss, unspeakable grief, and horrible pain.
Grumbling is a temptation. Discouragement and disillusionment are constantly lurking. A spirit of discontent is always ready to rear its ugly head. The only remedy is a familiar acquaintance with a good God. Asaph declares, “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Psalm 73:25–26).God’s goodness is to be measured by what He has done in reconciling us to Himself, what He continues to do in us and for us, and what He will do in the future. Click To Tweet
God’s goodness is to be measured by what He has done in reconciling us to Himself, what He continues to do in us and for us, and what He will do in the future. God the Father was good to us when He set His love upon us before the foundation of the world; and He was good to us when He chose us apart from any merit in us. God the Son was good to us when He became a man, lived and died for us; and He was good to us when He made atonement for our sin, washed us in His blood, and welcomed us into His family. God the Spirit was good to us when He turned our eyes to Christ, enabling us to see His glory; and He was good to us when He breathed spiritual life into our dead soul and came to dwell within us. God triune is good to us now in guarding us for a salvation to be revealed in the last day (1 Peter 1:5); and He is good to us now in ensuring that all things (good and bad, pleasant and unpleasant, joyful and sorrowful) work together for our good (Romans 8:28).
“Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good!” (Psalm 34:8).