“God is good.” Have you said it? Perhaps on the heels of a promotion or a problem solved or a pleasant night with family or friends, you’ve felt the words swell in your heart until it broke through on your lips.
Devotional Scripture: Exodus 20:13-21
Key Verse: “Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in the way.” Psalm 25:8
Nothing wrong with that! I praise the LORD alongside you for his kindness toward mankind. Though it’s not our circumstances that make God good. It’s not the outcome of a situation that determines God’s virtue. He is good with or without us. He is good whether we’re happy or sad. Whether our dreams come true or crumble to pieces.
All the time, His steadfast goodness pours forth, in ways we can’t even comprehend. Even amid the Ten Commandments, His goodness shines brightly. Though on the surface, it may not seem like it with a list of “you shall not’s” a mile long.
A list that reads like this: “You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s” (Ex. 20:13-17).
Phew! And if that isn’t enough, Jesus took each of these rules a step further by making it not just a command of action but of heart.
“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.” Matthew 5:21-22
And then He went on…
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Matthew 5:27-28
It’s condemning, isn’t it? How can any man live that perfectly? The answer is, we can’t. It will never happen. It’s impossible to measure up to God’s perfect standards. Which is why salvation is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ and not by works of the law (Galatians 2:16).
(Our first evidence that He is good.)
But we should still try. Because God’s law is not just a list of “shall not’s” for the sake of making life hard on us, but as a parent sets rules for a child, they are there for our protection! Take the sixth commandment for example, “You shall not murder.” Not only is it flat out wrong to unjustly take the life of another, but the hatred that comes first will ruin anyone who embarks on such a path.
And the envy and anger and bitterness that comes before the hatred will eat you alive. Holding you captive. Keeping you from a life of peace and joy. Therefore God said, “Don’t even think about it.” Not because He’s mean but because He’s loving. Caring so much about the life we’re living He gave us the stipulations necessary to live well. Making the sixth commandment more than just a command not to murder, but a protection over life, the very life we’re living right now. (Our second piece of evidence that God is good.)
(Side Note: If it’s not okay for us to do it, then why is it okay for us to watch it on TV? Just a little something to think about.)
But what about the seventh commandment, “You shall not commit adultery,” can we see God’s goodness there? You better believe it. It’s God who gave us marriage. It’s God who brought the first man and woman together. (Evidence enough in my opinion.) Establishing an intimacy so deep and fragile it’s to be guarded with a valid effort.
An effort that involves not even looking on another with lust. Because if you do – it’s like pouring gasoline all over a dry wheat field and then waiting for the lightning to strike. And God knows the lightning will strike. And it will hurt. And it will leave you scarred and broken. So don’t even look He says. Guard your mind and heart and body. Give it only to the one you’ve pledged your life to because the alternative is crushing.
Then the eighth, “You shall not steal.” With God over everything, there’s no need to take from another. He is the provider. So stealing is not just a sin against a brother, it’s a lack of trust in the Almighty and a pitfall to much worse. Like pride for example. By taking what rightfully belongs to someone else we place ourselves in the seat of God. For if all things are His, is it not His right to determine who they belong to?
Therefore, the eight commandment is not just a protection of property but a protection against pride. Against falling into a pit so deep we’re not sure which way is up. Only a good God would give us such a parameter. (Offering us our fourth piece of evidence.)
But what about the ninth, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” Does it declare God’s goodness too? When viewed in light of what it protects, which is truth, relationships and integrity, His goodness regarding the ninth commandment cannot be denied. In reality, it’s a protection against falling prey to the father of lies (John 8:44). It’s a push to live in step with a God who is truth (John 14:6). (Our fifth piece of evidence.)
Then we come to the tenth. “You shall not covet.” Do you know what this really is? It’s the secret to a happy life. Stuff does not bring joy. It does not lead to satisfaction; it leads to emptiness. But “godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Timothy 6:6). To be content with what you have is to possess a peaceful heart. And could there be any greater earthly possession? (Other than the certainty of eternal life of course.)
And you know, God didn’t have to share that secret with us. But He did. Giving us our sixth piece of evidence today that God is indeed good.
As a loving parent does, God set the rules, though he knew we’d break them. He knew we’d fall short. But instead of punishing us as we deserve, He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to take the punishment for us. To bear the iniquity that is ours. And that my friend is our seventh piece of evidence. While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Rom. 5:8) And there is no greater evidence of His goodness than that.
A goodness independent of my circumstances. Independent of my good days and bad. Unchanging in nature. Unyielding. A goodness able to soften even the hardest of hearts. Indeed, God is good my friend. Indeed, He is good.
Contemplate and Evaluate:
How do you generally view God’s commands, as parameters with a purpose, or as a bunch of rules that zap all the fun out of life?
Do you truly believe God is good all the time? Why or why not?