Summary: God is good. He always does what is right, and always acts for the good of those who follow Christ.
How many of you say grace at meals? At our house, we divide it up by days. So on Monday, I give thanks, on Tuesday, it’s my wife, and so on. That arrangement at least eliminates arguments over whose turn it is to pray, although enthusiasm for the task varies considerably. We don’t have a set formula, we let them say whatever is on their heart. And so sometimes we get long detailed prayers involving every item of food on the table ["thank you for the beans, thank you for the rolls, thank you for the milk."] And sometimes we just get a brief statement of thanks.
And as children grow older, they want to have a little fun with the prayer itself. So you sometimes get prayers like this: "Good bread, good meat, good Lord, let’s eat." Or this: "Thank you, Lord, for this meal, We know you are the giver. But thank you, Lord, most of all, That we ain’t havin’ liver." Now, you will have to decide for your own household whether these prayers will be tolerated as expressions of youthful wit, or suppressed as sacrilegious. At our house, we take a firm stand. Those kinds of prayers are not allowed, unless they’re really funny.
When I was growing up, I learned this prayer: "God is great, God is good, And we thank him for this food: By his hand we all are fed, Give us, Lord, our daily bread." Any of you use that? Short, simple, good theology. And when you’re done, the potatoes are still warm. What I want to ask you this morning is whether you believe this prayer. Specifically, do you believe that God is good?
It’s easy to just reflexively answer, "yes." We know that’s what we’re supposed to say. And of course, it’s easy to say "God is good" when things are going well. But when we’re suffering, when we’re going through a time of pain, or difficulty, or trial, then it becomes more of an open question, doesn’t it? Our response at those times to the question of whether God is good doesn’t come so quickly and automatically. We wonder, "If God is good, then why this?" Why this illness, why this painful relationship, why this financial problem, why this loss, why this disappointment? And so, even if we keep saying to ourselves and others that God is good, there’s a nagging voice in the back of our head that says, "Really?" "Is God really good?"
This morning, I’m going to do two things. First, I’m going to look at what the Bible says about God’s goodness. Second, I’m going to show why it makes a difference in our lives whether we believe that God is good or not.
God is good
The Bible teaches that God is good. He is morally upright and pure. He is just and righteous. There is not the slightest hint of evil, or sin, or wrongdoing in His nature. He is absolutely perfect and holy.
"God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. - 1 John 1:5 (NIV)
"The LORD is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him." - Psalm 92:15 (NIV)
"Far be it from God to do evil, from the Almighty to do wrong . . . It is unthinkable that God would do wrong, that the Almighty would pervert justice." - Job 34:10, 12 (NIV)
God always does what is right. Period. God will never treat us unfairly. He will never break His promises. He will never punish anyone unjustly. Now, sometimes we have a problem with this idea, because we have a very high opinion of what we deserve. We believe that we deserve good health. And so when the biopsy comes back positive we conclude that God is treating us unfairly. We have a "right" to financial security and prosperity. So when we get handed a pink slip, we think God has slipped up somehow. We deserve a trouble-free life. So when the storms of life blow through, we grumble against God and His oversight of our lives.
But the Bible says that God always does what is right. So if there’s a discrepancy between my expectations and the reality, then the problem isn’t with the qualtiy of God’s justice. The problem is with my expectations, my inflated idea of what God owes me. God is good all the time.
However, it’s not really enough to know that God is inherently righteous, that’s He’s "good" in a purely objective sense, is it?. That doesn’t satisfy; that doesn’t comfort. What we really want to know is that God is good toward us, that He’s kind, and compassionate, and merciful, and gracious to us, His children.
God is good toward us.
"How great is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you, which you bestow in the sight of men on those who take refuge in you." - Psalm 31:19 (NIV)