What’s the Good in Goodness?

What’s the Good in Goodness? August 11, 2014

   Goodness is a fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5 but its definition is“the quality of being good”, so we need to know what good is.
    When the rich young ruler casually referred to Jesus asgood, Jesus challenged him to pause and think about how God is uniquelygood.   God doesn’t want us thinking of goodness in vagueterms. 
    It can be hard to get our minds around “good”.  SimoneWeil said, “Imaginary evil is romantic and varied; real evil is gloomy,monotonous, barren, boring. Imaginary good is boring; real good is always new,marvelous, intoxicating.”  To offer one example, a godly marriage isgood—partnership, delight, conversation, shared joys.
    C.S. Lewis talked about our difficulty visualizing good in hispreface to Paradise Lost, “if you try to draw a character better than yourself,all you can do is to take the best moments you have had and to imagine themprolonged and more consistently embodied in action.  But the real highvirtues which we do not possess at all, we cannot depict except in a purelyexternal fashion. We do not really know what it feels like to be a man muchbetter than ourselves. His whole inner landscape is one we have never seen, andwhen we guess it we blunder.”
    Isn’t this exactly where our culture blunders?  Theunexamined assumption is that good is vague, bland, and boring.
    We need to think better about goodness.  R.C. Sproulpoints out that “good” depends on context.  A good dog might avoidneedless barking, know his name, and not make messes in the house, but we needto have higher standards for a good man.
    What does the Bible say is good?  It’s a recurrentrefrain as God creates land and sea, dolphins and bats, flowers andstars.  Genesis says, “and God saw that it was good.”  Creation is agood thing and God would soon give man the gift of stewarding it.  “Verygood” is the chorus in the song of creation.
    Jesus illustrated good in a parable about servants inMatthew 25, “And he said to him, ‘ His master said to him, ‘Well done,good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set youover much. Enter into the joy of your master.”  A good servant wasn’tpassive but actively did his best with what he was given.  Each had adifferent gift, but all had the same approval, “Well done, good and faithfulservant!”
    In Judges 18 the Promised Land is described with “we haveseen the land, and behold it is very good.”  Good is not in isolation, itis in the context of a gift.  The Promised Land was God’s gift to awandering and landless people who were rescued from the slavery of not evenowning themselves to the wonderful gift of a land that would give them place,home, ability to provide for their loved ones, something of their own.
    Ultimately, to understand good, we have to see Jesus—thegood one whom we could not have imagined came and showed us what good is anddoes.  He came to bring us everlasting good by replacing our sin andmisery with abundant, joyful life that makes all things new.  Good is notboring but exciting.