Sunday, March 16, 2008

Lent '08 - Day 34: Good

A month or so ago, when driving home, Kara expressed her feeling that I was a good person. I know she was expressing her appreciation of me, but I didn’t know how to take it. Jesus’ words quickly came to mind: “No one is good—except God alone” (Mark 10:18). I may do some good things, but I don’t think that makes me good. I also think and do things that aren’t good. I relate to the struggle Paul describes in Romans 7.

I decided to look at all the cases “good” is used in Scripture. Given how generic of a word it is, it may not be surprising that it shows up frequently. You can see the 566 occurrences here. While reading through these verses, a made a list of all the nouns that “good” was used as an adjective to describe. Here it is:
  • Light,
  • Land,
  • Animals
  • Items
  • Tree
  • Field
  • Pasture
  • Stones
  • Things of the land
  • Actions/deeds
  • Ideas
  • Words
  • Decrees/commands
  • Promises
  • Age
  • Fruit
  • Reports
  • News
  • Outcomes
  • Way/Path
  • Plunder
  • Health 
  • Judgment
  • Advice
  • Plans
  • Signs
  • Prophecy
  • Understanding
  • Favor
  • Work
  • Wisdom
  • Gifts
  • Eyes
  • Servants
  • Soldiers
  • Ministers
  • Race (competition)
  • Fight
  • Conscience
  • Reputation
  • Investments
  • Behavior
  • God’s will
  • God’s name
  • God
  • The Spirit 
  • People

I was surprised by how the word is used. It’s expected that many physical things would be described as good in Scripture given how Genesis 1 starts. It did stand out to me though that people should do good. This shows up continually. Actions of people are given the label of good. People are exhorted to do good. People are told to cling to good. People are told to seek the good of others, not their own. People are instructed that good comes from the inside. Jesus’ statement that no one is good alone holds up. People are described as good only a couple of times (2 Samuel 18:27, Luke 23:50, Acts 11:24), and this description only comes from other people. The times where God speaks of someone’s good (1 Kings 14:13, 2 Chronicles 19:3), he talks about the good that exists within them, but not a blanket statement that they are good.

In terms of what it means to do good, I didn’t see any occurrence where “to love” couldn’t be used instead. Specifics on what it means to love can be gleaned from the law/commandments and the life of Christ.

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