Must we believe that God is good?
Isn’t it enough to affirm he is the Creator? Or the Ultimate Being? Or the Holy One? Or transcendent? Why do we have to believe God is good?
Believers of all levels of spiritual maturity can have difficulty fully believing Scripture’s declaration that God is good. Because sometimes it’s really difficult to accept that God is good, all the time – especially when life stinks.
I talked on the phone last night with a dear friend who recently lost her mother. The unexpected circumstances my friend found herself in are decidedly ‘not good.’ Another friend with a family of five recently lost his job. And what about all those starving children out there?
It’s in those real-world moments of pain, death, and suffering that we can’t help but think like Eve in the Garden of Eden: “I believe you’re good, God. But are you good to me?”
It seems that God’s goodness should compel him to be good to us, right?
So, what makes God good? In Romans 2, Paul gives a very important reason why we must affirm the goodness of God.
GOD’S GOODNESS LEADS US TO REPENTANCE (Rom. 2:4)
All those messed up circumstances tell us one thing: life is messed up.
(Groundbreaking material here, I know).
But it’s true. Those stinky experiences in life are not what God intended for us. God created the world and everything in it as good! If you don’t believe me, read through Gen. 1-2 and count the number of times God describes his work in creation as “good.”
[pullquote style=”left” quote=”dark”]“Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?” Rom. 2:4[/pullquote]
Sin messed all that ancient “goodness” up, but that doesn’t mean God ceased to be good. Because it is God’s goodness that compels him to fix the world’s brokenness. How? By calling us to repentance.
We have a really messed up view of our lives. When things go wrong due to sin, we blame God for not being good to us. And when things are going swimmingly, we mistakenly believe God’s goodness obligates him to overlook or wink at our sin.
But in this passage, God’s goodness is discussed in the context of his judgment and wrath. Paul wants us to know that even as God is good, he is also just. He shows “no partiality” against sin or sinners (Rom. 2:11).
Paul says, believing God to be simultaneously just and good is important. Why? Because we don’t experience God’s goodness as an indulgent grandfather lavishes an impish grandchild with numerous presents, but as a holy and just Father who manifests his goodness toward his children based on the need to bring justice to their sin.
God’s goodness is ultimately manifested in his plan to redirect his wrath away from those who seek him and toward himself. God’s goodness is seen the most clearly through the gift of his Son, who appeased God’s wrath on our behalf.
Impossibly it seems, God’s goodness is seen in his righteous judgment again sin.
Must we affirm God’s goodness then?
To miss this essential element of God’s character is to err on the person and work of his Son. Because it is in God’s “forbearance, and longsuffering” toward us that we are led to the eternal life he offers (Rom. 2:7; 2 Pet. 3:15).
Circumstances aside, God’s goodness does compel him to be good to us. He is so good to us in fact that he is already hard at work to bring justice to every aspect of our lives. Even when we can’t see evidence of his activity, we can trust that he is active on our behalf with a good plan to benefit us.
When do you have trouble believing God is good? Do you have any favorite Scripture verses that encourage you to trust in God’s goodness?