What is Good?

The Good Shepherd by Bernard Plockhorst. This classic image is possibly the all-time favorite image of the Good Shepherd, which has inspired many artists since.

10And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

Matt 3:10 (KJV)

What is Good?  If I pointed to something and declared, “That is good” you would instantly either agree with me or disagree with me based on what the thing is, but what is Good?  A person who likes chocolate ice cream declares chocolate is good, but someone who doesn’t like chocolate would disagree.  What is Good?’  If I like dogs, I might say dogs are good but cats are bad.  If my wife likes cats she might say cats are good but dogs are bad.  If my daughter likes all animals she might say cats and dogs are both good.  Who is right?  Who is wrong?  Is there a right and a wrong?  What is Good?

In Genesis 1:4 God saw the light and said that it was good, then he divided it from the darkness.  Does that mean the darkness was bad?  God looked at the dry land and the seas and pronounced both of them good; He saw the earth bring forth grass, herbs, and fruits and said they were all good.  God hung the stars, moon, and sun in the sky and said they were good.  God made all the creatures under the sea and pronounced them good, likewise he made all the beasts of the land saying they too were good.  Finally, God saw everything that he had made and said it all was very good; the totality of creation was all pronounced VERY good by God, but what is good?

God placed in the garden of Eden a tree that held the knowledge of what Good is, but it also held a terrible knowledge about that which is Evil.  Man had no understanding then of what Good and Evil were.  This knowledge God said was not good for mankind to have but a serpent suggested otherwise, and we listened.  We wanted the knowledge of Good and Evil enough to defy the creator of everything ever made, and we took it for our own.  This defiance cost us the very personal and real company of God, Himself and our home in the lush garden.  We gave up everything to obtain the knowledge of Good and Evil, so what is Good?

The scripture from Matthew above warns us that those trees, a euphemism for people, that don’t bring forth good fruit will be cut down and burned.  I’ve been harping on one question, a definition of what Good is.  For some, they have no idea how to pin down a definitive explanation of what Good is.  Others have a partial idea, and a few have a solid idea of what Good is.  Many of those who have a solid idea share what they believe Good is, and more often than not when two or more definitions of Good are aired publicly they are in opposition to one another so how do we tell what real Good is (see the Greek definition HERE)?

2And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
Rom 12:2 (NASB)

Romans 12:2 tells us the will of God is not just Good, but also acceptable and perfect.  Where do we find the will of God?  Is the Bible the will of God?  Study of the Bible is the opening of the conduit between us and the Will of God; that which is acceptable, perfect, and Good.  If you’ve been grasping at straws each time the question what is Good has come up then may I humbly suggest spending more time asking the Holy Spirit to reveal the will of God through His word in the Bible lest an axe is lain against your root and you are cast into a fire.

Questions For Reflection

  • What is your definition of Good?
  • How often do you read the Bible each week?  Is that enough?  If not, make a plan to read more and do it.
  • When you do read scripture from the Bible do you read quickly so you can mark the task done or do you take your time so it will sink in?  Regardless of how you read, do you look up words you are unsure of or just skip them? Investigate and identify your favorite Bible translation and obtain a copy so you can make this the first place you go with spiritual questions.
  • When you read the Bible and questions come up based on what you are reading do you mentally file them away or write them down for later study and answering?  Do you take those questions to anyone when you cannot discern the answer on your own?  Investigate the small groups at your church and find one you are comfortable with so you have a place to seek counsel for those questions you cannot answer on your own.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.