In the beginning when God created the world, He finished the day, and declare, “it was good.” When he created the garden for Adam and Eve, He planted every tree that was “pleasant to the sight and good for food.” Most of us know Psalm 23 where David says, “surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” So what do good and goodness really mean? To answer that question, I went to my favorite word study book.*
In each of these cases, the word for good or goodness has the same Hebrew root, “tov” meaning: “good, pleasant, beautiful, excellent, lovely, delightful, convenient, joyful, fruitful, precious, sound, cheerful, kind, correct and righteous.” Wow. Take some time to stop and meditate on each of these words instead of just reading through them. Let the profound goodness of the Lord seep into your inner being.
My question today is, do we see good and goodness displayed in nature? Yes, but perhaps it’s a bit subtle. When I see the pure white petals of a flower, or the delicate pink petals of an English rose, or the abundance of greens in a view from the top of a mountain, or in the fall the abundance of color, the deep wonder and satisfaction I feel is due to the display of God’s goodness. Think about the ocean, its depths, its creatures, and its many glorious beaches. Look up at the sky and observe the clouds that He prepares daily and the moon and the stars that He displays for us every night. All of this is a gift of His goodness as the Creator. Nature reflects His beauty, loveliness and delight at its best.
Now someone might ask, what about evil? We know that the purity of the garden was destroyed when Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the tree of good and evil. But at that moment, even though evil was unleashed, good didn’t disappear. In nature, the good of the creation hasn’t been removed, but death is now part of the natural life cycle until God restores the earth to its perfect state of goodness. So when you see lovely examples of creation in their purest of forms, smile at the beauty or stand in awe and thank Him for showing you His goodness. He has a choice.
Often we think of good as describing a person’s actions, or a person’s character. We tell little kids they did a “good job” when they get something right or when they do something creative. I had a college professor who always said, “Oh very good” when anyone answered a question, whether it was the right or wrong answer. That was his way of encouraging responses, allowing mistakes to be expressed, but then using that answer as a starting point to get at the real answer to the question.
We all desire to be “good” at something. And in fact, God has given each of us talents and gifts to do so. “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”** Sometimes we think of goodness as an old-fashioned word. But do we often associate it with God’s works? When the psalmist says, that goodness and mercy will follow you all the days of your life,” do you not feel delight for a precious God who would desire goodness and mercy to follow you?
We are always going to be fighting against evil, in the spiritual realm and its manifestation in the physical realm such as pandemics and terrorism. In the Wizard of OZ we are all relieved when Glenda the Good shows up to get Dorothy back home. But we don’t need Glenda. We have the Creator of the universe, who set things in motion and watches over His creation every minute of every day. And if you sometimes wonder where He is, remember what the psalmist said, “I would have despaired unless I believed I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” ** Believe.
God is still on the throne. This is still His earth and His story. He is the ultimate determiner of outcomes. He always makes things work out for good, for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.** Remember that. And because He is good, those who believe in Him and have given Him their heart and their life get to spend eternity with Him, a place which is beautiful, delightful, lovely and perfectly good.
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.”
* The Complete Word Study of the Old Testament, by Dr. Spiros Zodhiates. If you’ve never seen this work of the new and old testament you are missing a rich experience.
**(Ephesians 2:10; Psalm 27:13; Romans 8:28)