Why does goodness exist? When was the last time you heard someone ask that question? It’s usually “Why does evil exist?” What does the rarity of the first question indicate about our view of goodness? Do we notice it?
I was going to write something about God’s goodness, and how we take it for granted. I realized however, that I could not tackle this topic anywhere near as well as A. W. Tozer does in his book The Knowledge of the Holy. So here is a passage from chapter 16:
“The goodness of God is that which disposes Him to be kind, cordial, benevolent, and full of good will toward men. He is tenderhearted and quick of sympathy, and His unfailing attitude toward all moral beings is open, frank, and friendly. By His nature He is inclined to bestow blessedness and He takes holy pleasure in the happiness of His people.
That God is good is taught or implied on every page of the Bible and must be received as an article of faith as impregnable as the throne of God. It is a foundation stone for all sound thought about God and is necessary to moral sanity. To allow that God could be other than good is to deny the validity of all thought and end in the negation of every moral judgment. If God is not good, then there can be no distinction between kindness and cruelty, and heaven can be hell and hell, heaven.
The goodness of God is the drive behind all the blessings He daily bestows upon us. God created us because He felt good in His heart and He redeemed us for the same reason.
…Divine goodness, as one of God’s attributes, is self-caused, infinite, perfect, and eternal. Since God is immutable He never varies in the intensity of His loving-kindness. He has never been kinder than He now is, nor will He ever be less kind. He is no respecter of persons but makes His sun to shine on the evil as well as on the good, and sends His rain on the just and on the unjust. The cause of His goodness is in Himself; the recipients of His goodness are all His beneficiaries without merit and without recompense.
With this agrees reason, and the moral wisdom that knows itself runs to acknowledge that there can be no merit in human conduct, not even in the purest and the best. Always God’s goodness is the ground of our expectation. Repentance, though necessary is not meritorious but a condition for receiving the gracious gift of pardon which God gives of His goodness. Prayer is not in itself meritorious. It lays God under no obligation nor puts Him in debt to any. He hears prayer because He is good, and for no other reason. Nor is faith meritorious; it is simply confidence in the goodness of God, and the lack of it is not a reflection upon God’s holy character.
The whole outlook of mankind might be changed if we could all believe that we dwell under a friendly sky and that the God of heaven, though exalted in power and majesty is eager to be friends with us.”
Read that a few times. Now ask yourself, do you feel entitled to God’s goodness? When was the last time you thanked God for being good–to you and the people around you? If it has been a while, then I would guess you are taking God’s goodness for granted. Don’t worry, I do it, too.
Take some time to think about all the good things in your life. If you have trouble recognizing anything, ask a friend—other people tend to see the good in our lives better than we do. Then take some time to think about the reality that it didn’t have to be this way. God does not owe us anything. Even on our best days, we do not impress God. Yet he is good to us, and he bestows blessings upon us every day. If that doesn’t spark a sense of gratitude toward our God, then come talk to me.
Written by Chris Sherman
If I had looked up the word, “Advent” as a child, I probably would have expected to see “a type of calendar that counts down to Christmas (AKA gift time!)” … But now, the season that precedes Christmas is more than a type of calendar to me. It is a time of waiting, watching, hoping, and anticipating God coming to earth in human skin.
It’s funny to anticipate something you know is coming because it really has already come. And yet we can’t wait to see it happen again. The cyclical nature of the calendar – the very idea that we celebrate the same holiday and season every ~365.25 days is a gift of grace.
I need the reminder. Anything I’m told once, or learn once, I forget. But if there is something to bring it to mind a few times subsequently, it begins to nestle its way into my brain. In fact, there are a few things in there I do not think I could get out if I wanted to and tried. Unfortunately, one of those things is too many digits of pi. 3.14159265358979323846264338327950288419716939 are woven in there tightly because of a challenge in high school. (At least I am assured of always being able to calculate the circumference of a circle… So there’s that.) Fortunately, also lodged in my mind is the first passage of scripture I ever memorized, Psalm 4. Sometimes when I am trying to recall something completely unrelated – my grocery needs for example – what pops into my brain instead is, “Answer me when I call to You, oh my righteous God.” I don’t know why it’s stored in the same part of the brain as the recipe I need to remember, but it’s there, ready when I need it. Regardless of what it is – useless trivia or scripture, sports statistics or your friends’ favorite colors – most of us only remember something when we are able to put that which we remember to use multiple times, whether in our own minds or socially.
Advent is a gift. It comes around every year and it stays for 4 weeks, reminding us: We are waiting for something. We are incomplete. But fulfillment is coming. Let’s incline our ears to hear and prepare our eyes to see where God already is working in our world, that we might know our need for Jesus to come and understand the gift we were given in His coming.
We’ll be using this space for the next 2 weeks to reflect on Advent – not as a countdown to Christmas, but as a season to celebrate in and of itself… We invite you to read and reflect on what it means to wait for something and anticipate a gift which You already know is coming. How is this annual reminder of the gift God has already given a gift to you?
Becky R, UMin Executive Assistant