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The Scriptorium

Getting Good Right

It's a good thing to do. Psalm 119.65-72

Psalm 119.65-72

Pray Psalm 119.68.
You are good, and do good;
Teach me Your statutes.

Sing Psalm 119.68-70.
(Open My Eyes: Open My Eyes, That I May See)
Lord, You are good, and good You do; teach me that I may do good, too.
Wicked men my true pathway distort: I keep Your Word with all my heart.
Their heart is dark with sin’s cruel blight, but in Your Law is my delight.
Let me not turn from Your sweet Light, nor from Your Word.

Read Psalm 119.65-72; meditate on verse 68.

1. What did the psalmist say of God?

2. What did he want God to do for him?

The common understanding of “good” typically begins with each person. That is, in our day, we have strayed so far from the path of God and His Law that we believe we can define the terms of goodness, and that we may do so in terms favorable or advantageous to us.

How absurd to believe that any finite, flawed, and fallible human mind could be relied upon to define the terms of goodness! And yet we do it every day.

A proper understanding of “good” and “goodness” begins in God. God alone is good, as Jesus reminded us (Matt. 19.17). Who of us would describe suffering, inconvenience, or affliction as “good”? God does. God is good and therefore everything He does is good, including allowing us to come into affliction (v. 71). “Good” is whatever serves to conform us more to the image of Jesus Christ.

But God has not left us to grope about in mystical confusion to know Him and His goodness. He has given us His Law, and all His Word (Rom. 7.12; 2 Tim. 3.15-17); and He shows us that it is good to learn His Law (vv. 68, 71), because the more of His Law we learn – in our heart, mind, conscience, and life – the more His goodness will shape us for the good works for which we have been redeemed through Jesus Christ (Eph. 2.8-10).

Get good right by knowing God and Jesus Christ, and by learning the Law of God. Then the goodness of God will transform you – even, if necessary, through affliction – and good works will issue from you throughout your Personal Mission Field.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
To attain to goodness, to get “good right”, seems a Herculean task. And yet God is promising that through the Holy Spirit this is within the realm of possibilities. He told us through Isaiah that we should “learn to do good”. (Is. 1.17) OK. If God is telling us to learn this, then it is there in our wheelhouse to perform.

We can see from creation what God perceives as good. “And God saw that it was good.” (Gen. 1.10, 12, 18, 21, 25). And on the sixth day, “God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good” (Gen. 1.31).

And then we see Jesus. Pure perfection and goodness. The Ultimate Keeper of the Law of God. (Jn. 3.16) “The Son who has been perfected forever” (Heb. 7.28).

So then what is the purpose of our goodness? To “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5.16). And if we are truly doing good works and having our conduct honorable among the people of the world, even if they speak evil against us, they may, by our good works which they observe “glorify God in the day of visitation” (1 Pet. 2.12). Goodness is always a win/win situation.

And these good works, which we have the possibility of doing, have been created by God for us to do before we were ever born. Imagine that (Eph. 2.10).

What help can we offer each other as believers to accomplish this goodness? Paul wrote that he did not cease to pray for others, and to ask that they be “filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that [they might] walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy…” (Col. 1.9-11). What a beautiful and good gift we can give to our fellow-believers to pray for them and for the good works that God has called them to do.

And here is something else that is good: living a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. Paul wrote that “this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior…” (1 Tim. 2.2, 3). In all our afflictions that has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?

“Getting good right” is a challenge for sure. And helping others get it right is part of the journey, too.

But all of God’s children, through every affliction and heartache, hold this precious promise dear: “Lo, I AM with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28.20).

For reflection
1. Why can we not rely on our own best ideas about goodness?

2. Good works are the reason God has saved us (Eph. 2.8-10). The Law of God is good (Rom. 7.12). What does this suggest about the role the Law should have in our discipleship?

3. Whom can you encourage today to love and good works (Heb. 10.24)?

He beseeches God to exercise his goodness towards him, not by causing him to increase in riches and honors, or to abound in pleasures, but by enabling him to make progress in the knowledge of the law. John Calvin (1509-1564), Commentary on Psalm 119.68

Pray Psalm 119.65-67, 71, 72.
Pray that God will help you understand which works are good works, and how to discern His good and perfect will for your life.

Sing Psalm 119.65-67, 71, 72.
(Open My Eyes: Open My Eyes, That I May See)
You have dealt well with me, O Lord, just as You promised in Your Word.
Teach me good judgment, help me to know all that I need to love You so.
Let Your commandments light my way. Send sweet affliction when I stray,
that I may walk Your holy way and keep Your Word.

All my afflictions, Lord, I turn to You that I Your Law may learn.
Teach me to hold Your Word in my heart, never from its true way to part.
Your Law is better far to me than any wealth could ever be;
open my eyes and let me see more of Your Word!

T. M. and Susie Moore

What is the Law of God and how should we learn and obey it? Two books can help. The Law of God arranges the statutes and precepts of God’s Law under their appropriate number of the Ten Commandments. This book is an excellent tool for meditating on God’s Law and thinking about its application in our time. The Ground for Christian Ethics, on the other hand, explains why the Law matters and how we are to use it. You can order free copies of each of these here and here.

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available by clicking here.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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