“And Jesus said to him, ‘why do you call me good? no one is good except God alone.’” Mark 10:18
We use this word a lot. We say things like, “that was a good meal” or “we are looking forward to some good weather.” We know what we mean but do we know what we are saying? The good meal was satisfying, it was flavorful, it was pleasing to my senses and there was enough of it! All that in one word, good. We say the weather is good when it is the right temperature, the sun is shining and the wind was not too strong or absent. Now where I grew up in Northern New England, when you wanted to step up the meaning a bit you would say, “that meal was wicked good!” Meaning it wasn’t just the run-of-the-mill good, but rather the Red Sox just won the world series good! There are many things we would say are good, but where does all this goodness come from?
God is good. We say it often and we mean it. He is good and He IS good ALL the time. But what does it mean that God is good? Goodness is an attribute, a characteristic, an aspect of God’s essence. “Good” is that which is morally honorable, pleasing to God and beneficial. God is the source of all that is good in both the moral and the material. Since goodness is an aspect of the character of God, it is constant and stable, not wavering or shifting.
We see the outward manifestation of God’s goodness in the very beginning. Genesis 1:31 states, “God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.” What God had made, God saw was agreeable, pleasant, excellent and rich. In other words, it was all that it should be, having come from the Creator God who is good.
As reborn image-bearers of God we too can display the goodness of God. There is a quote that states this well: “Blessedness does not lie so much in receiving good from and in You (God), but in holding forth Your glory and virtue; that it is an amazing thing to see Deity in a creature, speaking, acting, filling, shining through it; that nothing is good but You, that I am near good when I am near You, that to be like You is a glorious thing: This is my magnet, my attraction.” – Valley of Vision. For Christians, we are exhorted to prove God’s will or put His will to the test. Since He is good, His will is also good. We are to put His will to the test even when it goes against my will. My mind doesn’t always think the way God thinks. I must have it renewed and thus be transformed into His image more and more. When I do that, I then see more clearly how good His will really is.
We are also told to “cling to what is good” (Rom. 12:9b), to do it (Gal. 6:10), to follow after it (1 Thess. 5:15), to be zealous of it (1 Peter 3:13), to imitate it (3 John 1:11), and to overcome evil with it (Rom. 12:21). It is more than just doing good things but being changed by spending time with the One who is the source of all goodness.
Jesus had an encounter with a young man who was quite wealthy. This man called Jesus a “good teacher”, which is a true statement. But Jesus wanted to get to the heart of why this man had come to Him with his question. Jesus states in Mark 10:18 that only God is good. In other words, only God is the true source of all that is good and that it is He whom this young man was addressing. Jesus wanted this young man to see that living eternal life was more than simply doing good things. It is giving oneself to the fountain of all good and surrendering my will to His.
God is good and He desires to share that goodness with me, and then through me to others.