Recently, a pastor friend asked me what comes to mind when I think of God’s goodness. My first thought was God’s goodness to me personally, the countless reasons I have for gratitude, all the blessings of God that have flowed into my life.

Not even a minute passed before the words and melody of the worship song “Goodness of God” were in my heart. It’s a song I’ve come to love. A couple years ago, my brother sang that song as he walked through every room of the house he’d just moved into, a quiet expression of gratitude for God’s provision of a new home for him and his family. It’s a song I sang last year at the funeral of a children’s minister I had the honor of serving alongside for several years. “I have lived in the goodness of God.” It’s no surprise we think first of God’s blessings or that our gratitude wells up into song.

Goodness to the Undeserving

The longer I reflected, the larger the circle of God’s goodness grew. It’s good to exist. It’s good to be. Every breath we take testifies to the goodness of creation and the goodness of a Creator. And this fatherly benevolence flows to undeserving, often ungrateful creatures.

Jesus remarked on the Father’s goodness when he spoke of both righteous and unrighteous people enjoying sunshine and rain. Everyone on earth is a beneficiary of God’s goodness, whether they acknowledge him as the source of their blessings or not. God is so good that he sustains the breath of even the person who defies him. He grants life to men and women who deny his existence. He’s the fountain of all that’s good, the source of all life and love.

Compared to God’s magnificence, we’re mere ants, and yet God is good to us, small and weightless though we might be. It’s only because of his goodness that we have value and worth. We’re dust. We came from the ground and will return there. And yet, wonder of wonders, God is a dust-lover.

Goodness of Jesus

The Christian cannot long ponder God’s goodness before being drawn toward Galilee and to a hill outside Jerusalem. There we see Jesus, the eternal Word, who not only announces but embodies this goodness.

Many in our world find a measure of comfort or spiritual benefit in offering generic thanksgiving to a generic God. But it’s only when we look to Jesus that God’s goodness becomes like the sun: we can’t take in the brilliance, but it’s what gives light to everything else. The goodness we see in Jesus chases away the shadows of our sin.

When we read the Gospels, we see Jesus’s goodness on full display. There we see him tussling with the Pharisees, calling out the self-righteous, embracing those on the outside, showing compassion and love while making radical claims about his identity. Like Aslan, “he is not a tame lion, but he is good.”

The goodness of Jesus isn’t safe. He’s revolutionary in his words and deeds, a firebrand in his passion, a preacher of the kingdom coming, a prophet who warns us away from the path of destruction, a healer who restores people to wholeness, a storyteller whose tales delight and disturb, an agitator and annoyance to those most committed to the status quo, an exorcist whose presence causes demons to shriek and evil to flee, a wonder-worker whose miracles gives us a glimpse of the world the way God always intended it to be, a king whose crown is made of thorns and whose first throne is a cross.

Everywhere we turn, we’re confounded and overcome by the undeniably fierce and ferocious goodness of Jesus Christ.

His is a goodness that startles us, a perfection we long for and shrink from. The more we gaze on Jesus, the more we see where we fall short, whatever in our lives requires repentance and restoration. And yet the more we gaze on him, the more we also see what God wants to make of us, the greater our hope in God’s promise to renew us and all the world.

Goodness Stored Up

The second-century bishop Melito of Sardis sought to capture the glory and goodness of Jesus:

Born as a Son,
led forth as a lamb,
sacrificed as a sheep,
buried as a man,
he rose from the dead as God,
for he was by nature God and man.
He is all things:
he judges, and so he is law;
he teaches, and so he is wisdom;
he saves, and so he is grace;
he is begotten, and so he is Son;
he suffers, and so he is sacrifice;
he is buried, and so he is man;
he rises again, and so he is God.
This is Jesus Christ,
to whom belongs glory for all ages.

“How great is your goodness,” the psalmist exclaims, “which you have stored up for those who fear you!” (Ps. 31:19). God is the fountain, the storehouse, the depository of all goodness; the cross is the key that unlocks the inexhaustible, boundless riches of his grace. His goodness is pursuing us, running after us like the father hot on the tracks of the prodigal son. And so, “With every breath that I am able, I will sing of the goodness of God.”

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