What does it mean that God is good?

Last updated on May 27, 2021

The question if God is good and what his goodness means, is not just a theoretical discussion. It has more impact on our life than we think at first sight.

How to decide who is good?

Are you a good person? Most people think that they are. We can all think of bad people and perhaps we can even think of some people who are better than us. But how do you decide who is good and who is not good? Most of us rarely think about that question because we use ourselves as the standard for goodness. But how did we decide that we are good? How do we really know if we are good or not? Is there any objective standard for goodness?

Jesus points at God as good

When Jesus walked on this earth, a lot of people thought that He was good. The Bible says that one time a man ran up to Jesus “and knelt before him and asked Him, Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life? And Jesus said to him, Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone” (Mark 10:17-18). Jesus didn’t deny that He was a good teacher, but He re-directed the question to the true source and standard of goodness: God.

God is the standard of goodness

Because God is the creator of all things, He is over all things. He is the Lord and Master of the Universe, and He is the ultimate standard for what is good. God alone decides what is good and what is bad. He alone decides what is right and wrong. It is not us, or society, or the government who can ultimately determine good and bad. It is God alone because He made all things and is over all things.

God’s goodness is reason for joy

Several Bible verses exhort us to praise God for his goodness. Having a God who is not only almighty and omniscient but also ultimately good, is reason for joy! Read for example Psalm 135:3, “Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good; sing to his name, for it is pleasant!” or Psalm 100:4-5, “Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever.”

God is good and He does good

God’s goodness is part of his character, and it extends to everything He does. Psalm 119:68 says: “You are good and do good”. These two cannot be separated. When God had created the earth and everything in it, He concluded that it was “very good” (Genesis 1:31). 1 Timothy 4:4 makes a similar statement: “Everything created by God is good”. The same goes for the laws God has given his people: “the commandment is holy and righteous and good.” (Romans 7:12, see also Psalm 119:39)

God wants us to be good

Galatians 5:22 lists the fruit of the Spirit. After love, joy, peace, patience, and kindness, it also mentions goodness. If we are filled with God’s Spirit, we will experience and display these characteristics in our lives (although we will not reach perfection here on earth). The apostle Paul describes how he sees this “fruit” in the lives of believers: “I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another.” (Romans 15:14)

To know what’s good, we need to know God

If we want to know what is really good, we need to get to know the One who invented goodness. And we get to know God by reading the Bible, by observing what God commands, and what God condemns, what God does and what God does not do. Our understanding of God and his actions will never be complete and frankly, sometimes God is difficult to understand. But if we make the effort to seek to know Him, we will better understand goodness and the God who is good.

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