"The evil men do lives after them, the good is oft interred with their bones." This trite quotation enshrines a falsehood: Goodness does not die. It cannot be drowned in the depths of the ocean or consumed in the fires of a volcano. It cannot be buried under mountains of rock. Goodness does not die because it is defined, not by what man is, but by what God is. It lives on eternally like a self-sowing seed, and one harvest follows another. God is scattering this seed with a careful hand to produce the sixth fruit of the Spirit, goodness (Galatians 5:22).
1. What are some characteristics of God's goodness? Exodus 34:6; Psalm 31:19; 52:1; 65:4, 11; 86:5; 100:5; 145:8-9.
Comment: God Himself is good! "Good" in Scripture means primarily what God is, then what He does, creates, commands and gives, and finally what He wills in the lives of His creation. He is perfect and gloriously generous. His goodness is abundant and eternally satisfying. It is good to all, but great toward those who reverence and trust in Him. God's goodness endures continually despite the efforts of evil men.
2. How is God's goodness manifested? Psalm 119:39, 68; Matthew 5:45; 19:16-17; Acts 14:17.
Comment: Good is defined in terms of God, not vice-versa. God alone is good without qualification. He is the arbitrator and judge because He is the standard by which goodness is determined. Man and things are good only as they conform to the will of God. The whole material order is God's handiwork and is good. Physical blessings like rain in due season reveal God's goodness. Spiritual blessings, like understanding the truth and being forgiven of sin, are effects of obedience to God's law.
3. Can God's goodness be feared? Jeremiah 33:6-11; Hosea 3:5.
Comment: During the Millennium Gentile nations will fear God's goodness, realizing that His judgment falls upon all nations. After God judges Israel, resulting in terrible trials in the Tribulation and Day of the Lord, this fear of God's goodness will help cause the repentance and submission of previously rebellious nations, and God will pour out lasting blessings upon them. Israel and Judah will be so glorious because of God's goodness that the other nations will stand in awe of them and tremble at their greatness.
4. What should be our attitude toward God's goodness? Exodus 18:9; Psalm 145:7; Jeremiah 31:14; Romans 11:22; 12:2.
Comment: The Hebrew word most often translated "good" is tawb, which means "pleasant," "joyful," "agreeable." We should rejoice in God's goodness and always eagerly remember it in both good and bad times. If we are transformed by renewing our mind, we prove the good will of God and are satisfied with it because we know it always produces goodness.
5. Why are the works of God good? Deuteronomy 32:4; Psalm 66:3; 104:24, 28, 31; 111:3; 145:17. Why are the gifts of God good? Matthew 7:11; John 3:27; Ephesians 2:8-9; James 1:17-18.
Comment: God's works are perfect and reveal his attributes of wisdom and power. They show His will. His gifts express His generosity and provide for our welfare and unity. All of God's works and gifts are good both in intention and in effect. Everything that is good is God's gift.
6. Why are the commands of God good? Psalm 19:7-11; Romans 7:12. Why is obedience to God good? Exodus 20:6; Leviticus 26:3-12; Deuteronomy 28:1-14.
Comment: God's commands express the perfection of His character and show us how to please Him. When we obey His commands, God bestows upon us blessings while teaching us how to be good like Him.
7. Is it right to bemoan God's goodness during tribulation and suffering? Numbers 23:19; Job 2:10. What type of attitude is good during times of trouble or need? Philippians 4:11; I Timothy 6:8: Hebrews 13:5.
Comment: Job remarks that, as God's creation and recipients of His benevolence, we have no right to complain when He allows us to endure afflictions or hardships. Even in these times, we still reap the benefits of His goodness because it is good for us to be afflicted, to receive correction, because these trials will eventually benefit us. The result will always show God's goodness.
8. What promotes goodness? Colossians 1:9-10; I Timothy 2:1-3, 8; 5:4; Titus 3:8.
Comment: We please God when we are fruitful in good works because righteous action promotes God's goodness. Prayer in a humble and meek attitude is good and acceptable, as is honor and respect of widows and parents. Good is what God is, and goodness is what He produces.