Eyes to See the Goodness of God
Eyes to See the Goodness of God
by Lonnie Lane
[TV studio. Set up for a news show. Camera moves in for a close-up. Commentator begins speaking] New sociological research presents a convincing case that could put psychologists out of business. It is suspected that a new understanding of the idea of “goodness” being inherent in the universe may be a key to significant social reform. Stay tuned for more on these subjects that might have personal or even national significance. And now a word from our Sponsor God!
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God had a “program” for Israel, a way He wanted them to “walk” with Him. He would lead them, guide them, care for them, heal them, provide for them, and show them how to live in peace with Him, with each other, and even with their enemies, as long as they walked with Him. Walking is about moving, it’s about action, going forward. It can mean to follow and also is about how one behaves one’s self. And our behavior is based upon what we believe is true and what we believe is good for us.
Every religion has an idea of what good is and how to accomplish it. There is inherent in mankind the idea of wanting good. Even if our idea of good is warped, we still want some quality of being that is unthreatened and imbued with a character of such excellence that it brings only pleasure and stability. Goodness could include well-being, welfare, value, worth, wholeness. It can mean everything is all right, all is sufficient, even exemplary. Goodness is the quality of excellence and virtue at its highest.
None of us has actually experienced goodness in its fullness, but we long for it, work for it, plan for it, sacrifice for it. Why? Because good does exist inherently in all of creation. It is built in. All things were created through Him and for Him. “And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist” (Col. 1:16-17). He spoke creation into being out of His own character and nature as God who is good and good only. Adam and subsequently Eve being created in His image, were also infused with His goodness, as was the world they lived in.
That’s why the tragedy of Eve distrusting God was so dire. The devil in the snake managed to cause Eve to distrust God’s goodness toward her. The very DNA of the universe was being challenged. The devil insinuated that she could no longer trust God and by doing what He told her not to do, she could be as God. Well, she already was as much like God as she was ever going to be. Distrust of God’s goodness will never lead us to a higher good or anything better. Satan’s lie to Eve to distrust God’s word to her was equal to saying to her that God lied to her. But God cannot lie (Numbers 23:19) though satan “is a liar and the father of (lies)” (John 8:44). Well, we know what happened. She doubted God’s goodness and took matters, or rather the apple, into her own hands and then shared her alternative “program” with Adam and at once, they were both plummeted from a state of intrinsic goodness into fear and blaming each other. That’s not what I call good. And humankind has been trying to find our way back to goodness ever since.
Even Yeshua said, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone” (Mark 10:18). Not that He wasn’t God, He was, but He was emphasizing that very fact, that God alone is wholly good. The man He said this to saw himself as keeping all the commandments and therefore his self image was that of a ‘good’ man, and not a sinner. No doubt he was in human terms a “good man” for it says that “Yeshua felt a love for him”(:21). But what Yeshua was likely trying to show him, is that no man is truly good. Only God is good. Until we meet Yeshua we really have no idea what good is. We see the goodness of God only as we see in Yeshua “the radiance of (God’s) glory and the exact representation of His nature” (Hebrews 1:3). So as our announcer said in the beginning of this article, there is goodness inherent in the universe. It comes from God because it is ‘of’ God. When we connect with that goodness that is found only in Yeshua, we come to a place of profound peace and rest that would indeed put psychologists out of business if everyone came to know the Lord. Coming to know Yeshua in spirit and in truth is coming to trust in His universal goodness (objectively) and His goodness to us personally (subjectively).
Before there ever was an Israel, when Abram received his “call” from God (Gen 12:1-3), however it took place, he evidently was quite convinced he’d heard the voice of God. And he responded in obedience and trust. We don’t really know what Abram’s personal life was like before he heard from God but we do know his whole life changed. Whatever transacted between him and God, it so motivated him that he began a journey that would change the world!
What was it that he saw or came to know about God through that one encounter that made Him change the entire direction of his life? Was he confronted with the power of God that caused him to tremble in fear as Israel would years later when confronted with the holiness of God at Mt. Sinai? Did he see that the Almighty and Holy One was commanding him and he’d better do it or suffer the consequences? Was he too afraid not to obey? Or did he meet the God of love we know in Yeshua and his heart was so touched that he melted before Him in love for this One who loved him first (1 John 4:19) so that he would follow whatever He told him to do? Was it fear or love that motivated him?
I’m going with both! On the day I met the Lord I heard His audible voice and I can testify to the power that is resident in His voice. It remains the most remarkable moment of my entire life. His voice conveys an assurance of unchallengeable authority. A King with no enemies equal to Him. Absolute power! And inherent in that power is love. It is simultaneously and entirely, completely, and perfectly infused with tenderness and compassion. The two are mutually inclusive; one quality does not and cannot exist without the other in God. His power expresses His goodness. His power is to bring about His goodness. His goodness is carried out through His power. This I know from having heard His audible voice just once. It is like no other! It changes you when you hear it. He changes you when He speaks to you like that.
So I’m thinking that Abram heard those same qualities since the Lord is “the same yesterday, today and forever” (Heb 13:8). I knew when I heard it why Abram went, why Moses went, why David loved Him so and why the prophets spoke with the hearts of authority and love that they did. To hear His voice is to have awakened within you a desire to bring pleasure to the heart of this One who is good only and only good to the uttermost. It makes you to want to respond in kind.
I realize that not everyone has had the experience of hearing God’s voice. In my case, I knew no Jewish persons who believed in Jesus. What in the world was I doing even thinking about Him? He had to do something to cross that barrier I had toward Him. Speaking to me certainly did it. On that day I felt a peace and the power of His goodness such as I have never felt before or since. I’m here to tell you, God is good!
I was thinking about all this when I got a call from someone I don’t know. She had a question and a mutual friend suggested she call me. As we chatted, I became aware of why she said she felt she just had to call me. As we talked she shared something that God had been saying to her. They were the exact same words He had been saying to me for two days: “No one will love whom they don’t trust.” Said another way, “If you don’t fully trust Me, you can’t fully love Me.” The Holy Spirit was certainly emphasizing this issue to me. I want to write about the goodness of God but God is talking to me about trust being the prerequisite to loving Him. Well, trust is about believing in His goodness, and when we see how good He is to us, we respond by loving Him. Makes sense, doesn’t it? But if we are short on trust, it’s because we’ve not perceived His goodness. We will love Him to the degree that we see He is good and specifically good to and for us. We could use Eve again as our prototype. She could not have loved God the moment she doubted His goodness toward her in the same way as she did moments before she doubted.
Love is about giving ourselves to the one we love, about openness and letting them in. But if distrust comes in, we’re defensive, we’re protective, we throw up boundaries, which is a good idea if someone is threatening to us. But this is God we’re talking about here. There is no one “gooder” than He. But if we are not so sure of His goodness we will not be able to really trust Him as we may need to. Yes, need to. We all have needs. Needs are a way of life. There is a difference between a need and a want. We’re talking about trusting God to meet our needs. I wonder why wants are easier to ask for: “Lord, Please give me a new dress, a new car, an airplane to fly to places of ministry, a puppy, a new house, a mate.” Yes, some of those could be legitimate needs, but are they wants or needs? For some, a house or a car may be a great need while for others it’s an indulgence. Wants are less consequential, less necessary, than needs. Certainly they are less critical.
If you don’t get the puppy, the car, the mate, the new house, well, then you’re still where you were before you asked. But what if you don’t get what is essential and basic? What if we’re not healed of something serious? What if what you fear really does seem to be coming upon you? Things don’t remain the same if our needs are not met, they deteriorate. What if _____________ (You fill in the blank. What’s your “what if?”) We all have needs. They are needs as opposed to wants because they have to be met. And here’s the thing that is so critical: If we don’t get our needs met one way we will find another way. If we don’t know how to have our needs met in and through God, we will look elsewhere.
This leads to our greatest need, the need to know, without a shadow of a doubt, that God is true to His Word and that He answers prayer and that He is good and that we can trust Him to provide for our needs. If we’re not sure, we’ll walk away from God to look elsewhere to something we ‘think’ we can trust. We’ll head for
There’s nothing like a miracle to boost your faith and sure up your trust. Signs and wonders and miracles come about by faith, somebody’s faith, and they are always wonderful. I believe they happen more than we’re aware because we can miss them if we’re not looking for them or expecting them in our daily lives like we do at, say, conferences, or watching a show like Sid’s It’s Supernatural! We should have the same expectations of God’s power and goodness in the nitty-gritty daily life in the Lord. The kind I call “kitchen-faith” as opposed to “conference-faith,” is about trusting in His goodness for the day-to-day life issues, trusting that He will take care of you and that He will meet your needs as you trust in His goodness and faithfulness toward you.
That’s not to say He won’t bless you with “wants” too. I believe He will He does it all the time but we’re talking essentials here. We’re talking about the kind of trust that enables you to love Him completely, the kind of experiential knowledge of God that KNOWS He is good and not just good but He is good toward you so you can trust Him no matter what comes. The kind that expects God’s goodness to manifest in your life, regardless of what’s going on in the world or the economy or wherever. Try praying through Psalm 91 and see how the believer is affected in the trials and troubles of the world. Here’s another statement of the Lord’s help to us regardless of circumstances. It’s one of my favorites because my brother wrote a song with these words and they have stood me in good stead in shaky times: “For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake, but My lovingkindness will not be removed from you, and My covenant of peace will not be shaken,” says the Lord who has compassion on you” (Isaiah 54:10).
There is a clear distinction between two groups of people in Scripture: Those who trust Him and those who don’t. Oh, you say, you trust Him in most things. You just don’t trust him yet to ________________ (Fill in the blank again. What’s the area in which you are not really trusting Him?) Perhaps you will want to repent of your distrust, which is basically unbelief in Who He truly is. Just a suggestion.
Trusting God is basic, uncomplicated and indispensable. I suggest that if we can trust Him in one area, we can trust Him in all areas. That’s faith. God is altogether trust-worthy. Faith is about recognizing that about God’s character and nature. It is not about examining how much trust we have, but rather how trustworthy He is. Beware of the snare of trusting in your trust. If you’re looking at whether you have sufficient trust, you’re looking in the wrong place. Ask me how I know about that merry-go-round that gets you nowhere. Our focus has to be on His character and nature, His heart and His purposes and His motives and His ways. As we meditate on Who He is, we will more and more fall in love with Him. And when we find that we see how entirely He loves us and intends only the fullness of His blessings upon us, we can respond in kind and love Him back. “We love Him because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). We respond to His love for us with our trust and our obedience. That is the only way we can really walk with God. Can two walk together unless they are agreed? (Amos 3:3) We need to agree with Him that He has our highest welfare in mind and in His dealings with us.
We may have heard a lot about what we are supposed to be and do as believers, but some of my darkest times were when I was looking for goodness in myself in order to be acceptable to Him. It sent me spiraling downward rapidly. Hope is found in looking at Who He is intrinsically and what it is that He does for each of us that we can depend upon. If you were asked to sum up all that you know about God in one or two words what would those words be for you? ____________ (Yep, you got it: Fill in the blank again.) For me, the first word would be “good.” It is God’s goodness that is irrefutable. With all the pain and sorrow and suffering in the world, God Himself is still good.
My second word would be “truth.” I can rely on His goodness because it is based on absolute truth. And I can trust that He acts only in truth because of His goodness. His “program” for us is to rest in His character and nature in every area of your life. That’s His ultimate goal for us. It’s always been His plan for us. His covenant commandments are designed to bring about a life of peace and well-being. To deviate from them is to diminish our well-being.
God gave us all things for shalom, which is life, health and well-being, “seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence” (2 Peter 1:3). How do we come to the true knowledge of Him? By His glory and excellence. Not by some sickness or misfortune that is supposed to teach us a lesson as some think. His glory and excellence are about His perfect love and His absolute power to bring good to us. That’s His desire toward us: to pour out His love and well-being upon us, to give us His blessings till they are “pressed down, shaken together and running over” (Luke 6:38).
Do negative things happen? They sure do. We live in a fallen world and we’re not perfect yet. But God is working in and with us so that “all things (will) work together for those who love Him and are called according to His purposes” (Rom 8:28). That’s either true or it’s not. So long as we walk with Him, and live according to His purposes of love in obedience, we can rest that nothing in our lives will be for naught. He forgives our shortcomings and picks us up when we fall, like a good father helping his child learn to walk. We weren’t born into holiness. It takes some learning to walk in His ways.
I’ve heard of numerous things going on in people’s lives lately that are difficult and hard. Troubles and tragedies. We are slip-sliding into difficult times, it may appear. I’m not saying all this goodness stuff in a bubble. Sometimes life is hard. What I’m saying is that in the midst of trials and tribulations, that’s the time to focus on and look for God’s goodness. We don’t have to acquiesce to the troubles, though we do have to wisely deal with the reality of what goes on around us that affects us. Our God has promised to “cause all things to work together for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Rom 8:28). His purpose is that His Kingdom be visible so that whosoever wants God can find Him through us. Is that your purpose? The advancement of His Kingdom? Or to look at it from the human side, to make the Kingdom and the King available to those who need a safe refuge? Our purpose can be to be so enjoying God that we overflow to others with His goodness.
God’s goodness is there for those who will seek Him and look to Him for it. I often pray for eyes to see His Kingdom. (See John 3:3.) His goodness is visible to us if we look for it. Things may look bleak in the natural, but we’re called to be supernatural people, empowered by God’s Spirit to be overcomers. Overcomers are people who see Kingdom possibilities that non-overcomers aren’t aware of. To be people that reflect His goodness so that they come to trust in Him that’s His “program” for us. Let’s get with the program! As the announcer said in the beginning, a new understanding of the idea of “goodness” being inherent in the universe may be a key to significant social reform. If everyone could see His goodness, how much it would change the way we run the world. It would change things. Like hearing His voice, it will change us as we see it. He will change us! This will be the case for those with eyes to see the goodness of God that is in the earth. But should the world be found to be in encroaching darkness, it remains always true, the Son is always shining in the Kingdom! We can put our trust in that!
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Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible Copyright ©1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, Calif. All rights reserved. Used by permission.