Parameters of Encouragement (7)
Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. Genesis 1.31
The earth is full of the goodness of the LORD. Psalm 33.5
I would have lost heart, unless I had believed
That I would see the goodness of the LORD
In the land of the living. Psalm 27.13
So He said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.” Matthew 19.17
There can be no doubt that God’s intention for His creation is that it should realize His goodness in whole and part. When we are seeking to be encouraged, or to encourage others, we must consider the nature of goodness, and how seeking goodness builds the Church, mirrors the character of Christ, brings heaven to earth, reflects the priorities of God’s Word, advances His Kingdom, and brings Him glory. Goodness is the most practical, visible, tangible, and accessible arena within which we can act courageously according to our calling as followers of Christ. Our prayers should be illuminated and shaped by our understanding of God’s goodness; and all we seek, of ourselves and those we encourage, is that through our courage the goodness of the Lord might come to light in the land of the living (Ps. 27.13; Eph. 2.10; 2 Tim. 3.15-17).
For the goodness of God leads to repentance (Rom. 2.4). Hence, realizing the goodness of God is an essential component of our witness, and a necessary precondition for effective evangelism.
God is the standard of all things good, as Jesus explained (Matt. 19.17). When God reflected on the creation at the end of the sixth day, He saw exactly what He intended to see. He saw the physical, spiritual, moral, and practical manifestation of His own inherent and perfect goodness. The world was just the way He wanted it to be.
Our calling now is to be equipped for every good work, that we might daily improve on our redemption; and, working with the goodness of God that still exists in this fallen world, bring more of His goodness to light in everything we do. And for this, we’re going to need lots of courage, and so will those with whom we hope to advance this high and holy calling.
The goodness of God
God’s goodness is first spiritual, in that He is a most pure Spirit, without any compromise of perfection or completion. We must ever strive to realize and maintain such goodness in our soul, keeping heart, mind, and conscience always submissive to and in line with the Word of God.
The goodness that issues from such infinite purity is, first, moral in nature, then practical in excellence, and finally, contributing to the flourishing of all things according to the divine will and plan. We do good when we walk according to the holy and righteous and good Law of God (Rom. 7.12), and when we do the good works of the Law which God has before ordained that we should walk in them (Eph. 2.10; Gal. 6.10). Every day we must try to improve in our works, to bring more of the excellence of God to light in them, whatever they may be. Thus we and everything to which we set our hands may expect to flourish in the good blessings of the Lord (Deut. 28.1-9).
God’s goodness embodies His truth and reveals His beauty. Wherever we are seeking to bring the goodness of God to light, we must do so according to His truth and with a view to achieving something truly beautiful and reflective of the divine essence. These standards apply to all our relationships, roles, and responsibilities, and to everything we do, even the smallest or most routine (1 Cor. 10.31). The more we realize of the goodness of the Lord in every aspect of our lives, the more we flesh out the goals of our calling to God’s Kingdom and glory, make progress in our pursuit of the likeness of Jesus Christ, and contribute to building His Church. And the more we bring the reality of heaven to tangible expression on earth.
In a world where the idea of divine goodness is universally scorned and rejected, we will need great courage to undertake the restoration of the world, as much of it as comes into our hands, according to the divine standard.
But the end of such a life of striving to realize the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living is to hear the voice of the one true and good God, saying to us, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
Courage for goodness
Jesus has set the table for our good works. He has reconciled the fallen and sinful world, and everything in it, back to the Father (2 Cor. 5.18, 19). What does this mean?
Jesus has reconciled all of creation, all culture and civilization, every nation and person, and all of creation back to God. He has taken His seat at the right hand of the Father, and is ruling over all things for the realization of God’s goodness and glory. The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it (Ps. 24.1). And He is sending His people out, day by day, to bring the refreshing dew of grace and truth on all of life, that the goodness of the Lord may come to light in the land of the living (Pss. 27.13; 110.1-3).
But that doesn’t mean that everything is yet what He intends it to be. As the writer of Hebrews explained, all the world and everything in it has been placed into the hands of God’s redeemed people, that they might set it all in order unto the Lord – taking the reconciled world in hand, and restoring it to the standard of God’s goodness in all things. And although we don’t see that happening yet, we see Jesus, and seeing Jesus, we are encouraged – infused with courage from the Spirit of God – to do all things so as to reflect and refract the goodness, truth, and beauty of Jesus into our everyday world (Heb. 2.5-9).
It will take great courage to stand for the goodness of God in the land of the living. We must seek it from God’s own Spirit, Who is at work within us to will and do of God’s good pleasure (Phil 2.13). We must be quick to encourage one another in the Lord, and to undertake relentlessly whatever will bring the goodness of God to light in the land of the living, whether in works of great significance and visibility, or in everyday routines and situations, where we might be inclined to overlook God’s desire to see His reconciled world restored to goodness in every way.
From the womb of the morning, and throughout each day, we are sent to the world for goodness. Let us take courage, encourage one another, and press on.
1. How can you see that aspects of the goodness of God yet remain in the world? Why is it important that we see these where we can?
2. Goodness expresses the truth of God and results in His beauty being visible in tangible situations and things. Can you think of some examples of that from the life of Christ?
3. Why will we need courage, every day and again and again, to seek the goodness of God in today’s world?
Next steps – Transformation: Make a list of all the areas of your life where God wants you to improve in goodness. Pray for these daily, and work courageously to bring more of God’s goodness to light.
T. M. Moore
At the website
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.