“Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him, my salvation and my God.” Psalm 42:5
I always struggle with what to blog. There are things that are too personal to put into the public sphere, and I don’t want my blog to be over-spiritualized (contrary to popular belief, being a Christian is not about posting Bible verses and holy-sounding quotes on all your social networking sites).
But every once in awhile, God shows me something that I can’t keep to myself — things that are too good not to share. And I’ve come to realize, those things are as much a part of my life as what I ate yesterday or a funny mishap from this morning.
This morning I read the section in Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology on God’s goodness. He says, “The goodness of God means that God is the final standard of good, and that all that God is and does is worthy of approval,” (that is, God Himself is the one who determines what is worthy of approval, consistent with His own character).
I was thinking about what this means for me. I realized recently that I have quite high expectations — for myself, especially, and for other people as well. I have a strong sense of what “should be” in this world and how much reality falls short. I’m easily disappointed, disillusioned.
In Luke 18:19, Jesus calls the rich ruler out on his shallow understanding of “good,” saying “no one is good except God alone.” The rich ruler assumed that everything he had done in his life was good enough to enter the Kingdom of God, but God — being the ultimate standard and definition of goodness — has impossibly higher standards.
Perhaps Jesus was alluding to the fact that no one can earn their own salvation, that nothing we ever do is ever really “good enough” when you consider God’s measure of goodness. When I think about how often I set high expectations and become disappointed in myself, it struck me that God’s standards are far higher than mine; He alone really has the right to be disappointed in me or in the way things are in this world.
But Jesus says a few verses later: “What is impossible with men [salvation] is possible with God” (v 27). The only One who is truly good was moved by His own character to provide the only One who would be good enough to pay the penalty for our failure and to fulfill God’s standard of goodness on our behalf (that is, Himself incarnate, Jesus the Son).
“He who did not spare His own Son but gave him up for us all, how will He not also with him graciously give us all things?” Paul reasons (Rom 8:32). The One who gives every good and every perfect gift (James 1:17), the One who is does not withhold any good thing from us (Psalm 84:11a), the One whose will is “good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom 12:2) — how can I reflect on His goodness and not take comfort?
God’s goodness gives us reason to persevere in difficult circumstances, because we know that all things are in His hands and all His actions towards us are good. God’s goodness motivates us to imitate and reflect His character in our relationships with one another, to walk uprightly and to trust in Him (Gal 6:10; Ps 84:11b).
And not only is God the source of all good, He is the ultimate good we should desire and seek. I catch myself seeking the blessings of His goodness towards me rather than pursuing God Himself. But I want to be like the psalmist, who desires nothing on earth besides God, his strength and portion forever (Psalm 73:25-26).
My prayer is that I would “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8). That head knowledge would translate into heart knowledge through personal experience of God’s goodness in my life. That I would be able to join the psalmist in saying “I sought the Lord, and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears” (Ps 34:4). Even my fears of failure and disappointment.