Theology Thursday: Reflecting God's Goodness in All You Do

Woman showing God's goodness by helping a neighbor

“God is good all the time,” and …. “All the time God is good.” On any given Sunday, this call-and-response refrain can be heard echoing within the walls of churches around the globe. While this simple proclamation may sound cliché, that does not change the bold truth it contains. God is good. And he is good all the time. There never is a time when God is not good.

Unfortunately, this may be one of the most overlooked attributes of God because people frequently accuse God of doing many things that are not good. Whether from misunderstanding, misplaced blame, or an instinctual response to suffering, humanity tends to miss God’s goodness and see only the brokenness and pain they think he ignores. However, recognizing God’s essential goodness is foundational to an accurate understanding of God’s nature, God’s work in the world, and God’s plans for humanity.

God Is Good

The Bible repeatedly proclaims that God is good. God’s goodness is abundant (Exodus 34:6, Psalm 31:19). His goodness is always with us (Psalm 23:6). Everything good comes from God (James 1:17). He fills our hungry souls with good things (Psalm 107:8-9). He is good, does good, and gives good gifts to his children (Psalm 119:68, Luke 11:13).

Theologian James Bryan Smith defines goodness as "that which works for the benefit or betterment of another. That which is good makes us better, heals us, restores us, improves us, strengthens us and makes us right..."1 Because God is good, God will always act in alignment with his character. That means, God will always act with goodness in ways that make us better, strengthen us, heal us and restore us.

God’s Goodness at Work

The Bible tells the story of God’s goodness throughout human history. In the beginning, the goodness and love within the Trinity overflowed and created the good world, culminating with the very good creation of humanity, who were created in the image of God (Genesis 1). God gave humanity the good gift of free will. Tragically, the first humans chose to exercise their free will to disobey God, resulting in brokenness, sin, death and separation from God — the very opposite of goodness (Genesis 3). However, God is good, and he always acts with goodness. Therefore, he responded to humanity’s sin with goodness and initiated a plan to make things right again.

Over the centuries, God continued to guide his people toward healing in ways that improved and strengthened them. Then, when the time was right, God sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to redeem and restore humanity (Galatians 4:4-5). Through his sacrificial death on the cross and his resurrection three days later, Jesus cancelled the power of sin and death (Romans 8:2-3, Colossians 2:14), making a way for people to be restored to relationship with God and to live in relationships of goodness with others. When people accept Jesus’ gift of salvation, they begin the journey of growing in goodness. One day, Jesus will return with a new heaven and earth; once again, everything will be fully good (Revelation 21).

Created for Goodness

People have been created by God’s goodness, as a reflection of his goodness, to do good. Being created in the image of God means that people have intrinsic value and worth. They have free will. They have been given the job of caring for God’s good world. They have the capacity to grow in Christlikeness, becoming more and more like Jesus, so that they, too, display godly attributes such as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). Action flows out of being, thus when people become loving, joyful, peaceful and kind humans, they behave in ways that are loving, joyful, peaceful and kind. As they do this, they reflect God’s goodness to the world.

People are created to do good (Ephesians 2:10) and their good works reflect God’s goodness to a broken world. When people selflessly give in a way that helps better someone else’s condition, they share God’s goodness. When they choose forgiveness and restoration over bitterness and resentment, they inhabit God’s goodness. When they build others up instead of tearing others down, they impart God’s goodness. When they choose to tell the truth, instead of spreading gossip or telling lies, they communicate God’s goodness. When they stand up for people on the margins, they do what is right, and convey God’s goodness.

Recognize God’s Goodness

It can take some training to learn to recognize God’s goodness, especially on days when the world’s brokenness and pain seem to have the last word. However, when you train yourself to recognize God’s goodness, then even on those hard days, you will be able to see God working for the betterment of people. One way to train to see God’s goodness is to keep a simple goodness log. Each day take one minute to reflect and jot down how you have seen God’s goodness over the last 24 hours. How have you seen something made better? How have you seen healing or restoration? How have you seen yourself or someone else grow or be strengthened? How has something been made right?

As you track God’s goodness, you will train yourself to see God’s goodness when it is obvious, and then you will eventually be able to recognize it even when it seems to be hidden. On difficult days you can review your log and be strengthened (an aspect of goodness) as you remember God’s manifest goodness.

Reflect God’s Goodness

As you train to recognize God’s goodness, the Holy Spirit will help you become more like Christ and empower you to reflect God’s goodness to the world. You can also train to reflect God’s goodness by choosing to do good things, not in order to try to gain anyone’s praise or favor, but simply to reflect God’s goodness to others.

Try it this week. Do something that benefits someone else without expecting anything in return. Start simple. Take out your neighbor’s trash. Volunteer to do that task at work that no one else on your team wants to do. Write your grandmother a handwritten thank you note for your Christmas gift. Look the teenagers at the drive-thru in the eye and compliment them. Choose to strengthen and improve life for those around you just as God has done for you.

Read more Theology Thursday and learn more about theology and ministry programs at GCU’s College of Theology today.


1 Retrieved from Smith, J.B. (2017). The magnificent story: Uncovering a gospel of beauty, goodness and truth. InterVarsity Press.

 

Approved by faculty for the College of Theology on Jan. 5, 2023.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.

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