What Is Goodness?

When a rich young ruler called the Lord Jesus good teacher, He said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.” (Mark 10:18)

Often we think some people are good and some people are bad or evil. But, the Lord Jesus said actually no one was good. Only God is good. We think some people are good and some people are not good because we use human understanding and standard to measure goodness.

Why did the Lord Jesus said that no one was good, but only God was good? What is goodness actually? The Psalmist wrote, “Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.” (Psa 118:1, 29) The goodness of God is related to His enduring mercy. It means God is good because He always shows mercy.

When Moses asked the Lord to show His glory, He answered, “I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before you.” (Exo 33:19) What is the glory of the Lord? It is all His goodness. What is all the goodness of the Lord? When the Lord passed before Moses, He proclaimed, “The Lord , the Lord  God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin.” (Exo 34:6-7) So, all the goodness of the Lord is proclaimed in His name and they are related to His enduring mercy.

Goodness is not related to the moral quality of a person, but instead to his mercy quality. The parable of the good Samaritan illustrates this truth.

“A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.  Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.  Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side.  But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion.  So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him.  On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’  So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?” And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.” (Luke 10:30-37)

Both the priest and the levite had moral uprightness, but the Samaritan had mercy. So, it is the Samaritan who is truly good, not the priest or the levite.

Barnabas was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith (Acts 12:24). Why? He had compassion on the needy among the saints and showed mercy by selling the land that he had and brought the money to the apostles to be distributed to those who lack (Acts 4:36-37)

It is written, “how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.” (Acts 10:38) God anointed the Lord Jesus with the Holy Spirit that He bore the fruit of Spirit goodness in His life. He went about doing good to people who suffered and had need. Thus, goodness is the expression of the enduring mercy of God and His kindness to people.

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