The character of God: How good Is God?

I want to begin this new series with two quotes I found quite profound. First from A.W. Tozer who wrote, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us. The history of mankind will probably show that no people has ever risen above its religion, and man’s spiritual history will positively demonstrate that no religion has ever been greater than its idea of God.” Whether this is a profound quote or not is dependent on our desire to think about God. How often do you think about God?

Charles Spurgeon challenges us further with this thought, “The Proper study of a Christian is the Godhead. The highest science, the loftiest speculation, the mightiest philosophy, which can ever engage the attention of a child of God, is the name, the nature, the person, the work, the doings, and the existence of the great God whom he calls his father.” So, for the next number of weeks we will consider the amazing character of God. I want to start with the questions, “How good is God?”

These are the ways most people judge how good God is. We expect God to give us unbelievable marriages, make all of our kids turn out right, never allow us to be depressed, or even sad, and keep any bad things from happening to us. If we know anything about the Bible we know that these are not Biblical promises from God, but listen to Christians (and a few non-Christians too) whine when God doesn’t perform to our expectations.

The problem with this way of judging God’s goodness can be seen in this Parable of the Chinese Man. During the days of the Chinese/Mongolian War a Chinese man had a beautiful horse, a mare, who leaped over the fence, raced down the road, crossed the border and was captured by the Mongolians. His friends came to comfort him. “That is bad news,” they said.

“What makes you think its bad news? Maybe it is good news,” he said. A few days later the horse came

bolting into his corral, bringing with it a massive, snow white stallion. His friends declared this to be good news. “What makes you think its good news? Maybe it is bad news,” he said.

Later that week, his son was riding the stallion, trying to break it. He was thrown off and he broke his leg, and everyone agreed this was bad news. “What makes you think its bad news? Maybe it is good news,” he said.

The next week the war broke out with Mongolia, and a Chinese general came through town drafting all the young men. He took them all and they were all later killed, except for the young man who couldn’t go because his leg was broken. The Chinaman said, “You see, the things you thought were bad turned out good, and the things you thought were good turned out bad.”

In his book “God: As He Longs for You to See Him” by Chip Ingrim, he says that God is the very definition of what goodness is. God will bring about the best good for the most number of people while balancing our needs, wants, and free will. We cannot even fathom how this can be done when we consider all the different needs, wants, and free will of all people.

My favorite example of this in the Bible is when Moses asks to see God’s glory in Exodus 33:18-23. God responds that Moses cannot survive seeing all of God’s goodness, so God will put him in the cleft of some rocks, cover him, until God passes, and then let Moses see his back. That is all Moses can handle of God’s goodness.

Whenever we are going through hard times in life in a fallen world we must trust God to be perfectly good. If God were anything less, he wouldn’t be God. If we do not like our circumstances it is time to turn to God all the more because He is the only one who can guide us, heal us, strengthen us, and grant us the wisdom to get through our greatest struggles in life.

Do you believe God is perfectly good? Why? Have you had, or are currently having any experiences in life that make you question God’s goodness? Have you celebrated God’s goodness in the past? Did God change, or our circumstances? Remember, God being the definition of goodness is not dependent on our opinion of God.

To find out more about Al Earley or read previous articles, see lagrangepres.com.