How good is God? This was the overlooked question. The question no one was asking. Jesus went straight for it.
You have to watch Jesus carefully. When you do, you discover that He doesn’t act like your typical Christian minister. He doesn’t seem to care who He offends. He certainly doesn’t practice our social etiquette. Here’s a case in point: Someone asked Jesus a perfectly sensible question about eternal life, but rather than encourage him with kindness (as we would), Jesus rebukes him with a pointed question of his own. What kind of “pastoral” approach is that?
Observing the Master in Action
Luke tells us that the man began by saying, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus immediately stopped the man and corrected him: “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone” (Luke 18:18-19). We know how important our entry to eternal life is for Jesus—He gave His life for it! However, God’s honor is apparently even more important. Jesus wanted to get that message across first, and it wasn’t even the one the man was asking about.
Nevertheless, the two ideas are tied together in this way: God is SO good that He wants to give eternal life to us as our inheritance. For me to “inherit eternal life” the question is never about my goodness (which is woefully insufficient to inherit anything but hell); it is always and entirely about God’s goodness (who has made heaven free for the asking). You can thank God that it’s God’s goodness that will get you into heaven. Or, as Mark Twain put it, “Heaven works by grace, not merit. Otherwise, your dog would get in before you.”
Riding the Idea like a Wave
Reading this exchange the other day got me thinking, just how good is God? These three wonderful thoughts immediately came to me (thank you Jesus!).
#1: GOD IS THE GOD YOU HAVE ALWAYS NEEDED
Maybe you didn’t know it when you started out on the rough road of life, but you have always needed a God who would love you wholeheartedly, forgive you freely, accept you entirely, help you endlessly, lead you into blessings, guide you into wisdom, never forsake you, never reproach you, never fail you—and even bring overwhelming good out of all that goes wrong. Wow! Was I ever in need of a God like the One we have!
#2: GOD IS THE GOOD YOU HAVE ALWAYS DESIRED
Maybe you didn’t know it when you started “going for the gold,” reaching to gain and enjoy the good things in life, but all that you have ever been looking for or desiring in the way of beauty, goodness and truth; inspiration, motivation and purpose; peace, love and joy has had Him for its Source. Your every (good) desire comes from Him and is fulfilled through Him. Not for nothing is He called “the Desire of Nations”!
#3: GOD IS GIVING ALL HIS GOODNESS TO YOU
Psalm 84:11 says, “No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.” We don’t have pockets big enough to take it all in. Here’s another great one: “No eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Cor 2:9). God intends to bless us beyond our wildest dreams. But it gets even better. He is giving Himself to each one of us! He is personally loving you the way He is asking you to learn to love Him: with His whole Heart, Soul, Mind and Strength, at all times and in all places.
How Good is God?
Considering all this, I’ve got to say, or even shout out loud, “God, You’re Good!”
For a fascinating foray into other things about Jesus you might want to know, check out “His Glorious Ascension” at our website for life in the Spirit, forerunners4him.org.