By Caleb Faires
Good food. Good company. Good morals. Good taste. Good times. Good vibes—we love good things, right? We use the word “good” in a wide variety of contexts. We tend to talk of goodness as a thing unto itself, a judgment call made on the basis of personal preference. We think of goodness as positivity and happiness, even of trite and passing pleasures, so much so that we are prone to lose sight of the profundity of its meaning.
But Scripture is clear: goodness does not exist apart from the presence of God. Consider Jesus’s interaction with the rich young ruler in the Gospel of Mark. When the young man called Him “Good Teacher,” Jesus confronted him: “‘Why do you call me good?… No one is good except God alone’” (Mark 10:18).
Goodness is only found with God. Goodness is His glory, His favor, and His presence (Exodus 33:12–19). Goodness is His activity for the blessing of His people, and for a witness to the nations (Psalm 31:19). Goodness is the root of joy and gladness, the ground of fruitfulness, and the satisfaction, consolation, and refreshment of the soul, found only in God (Jeremiah 31:12–14). Goodness is the fruit of God’s own light, and transforms us in Christ (Ephesians 5:9).
Yet, despite this, we are prone to look for goodness in just about every other place, even in “good” things: in family and friends, in tranquility and comfort, in victory and success, in hard work and productivity, in neighborliness and hospitality. But if we supplant the goodness of God with the virtues of our own efforts, we have utterly failed to understand the God of Scripture. To look for the good life in any place except the gospel is folly.
God alone is good, but God is also astoundingly generous with His goodness, so much so that He offers it to us. He makes His goodness ours. Moses beheld the goodness of God as it passed by him on the mountain (Exodus 33:18–19), but Christ reveals to us that same glory, not on a mountain, but by the indwelling of His Spirit. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We observed his glory, the glory as the one and only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). He, with all His goodness, dwelt among us, and His Spirit now dwells within us.
This, then, becomes the foundation of the fruitful Christian life. If there is to be any excellence or virtue in our walk in this world, we must abide in Christ and walk by His Spirit. The evangelistic call of the gospel is never simply an offer of escape from judgment. It is always also an invitation to come to the bounty of God’s dwelling place. Men may search for success, joy, comfort, and peace in many places, hoping somehow to find the good life on their own, but true goodness can only be found where the Spirit of Christ is, the mark of the Holy Spirit’s fruitfulness in our lives.
Written by Caleb Faires
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