The Knowledge of the Holy: The Goodness of God
[Editor’s Note: This is a 23-Day Series exploring different aspects of God’s nature and personality, using Tozer’s “The Knowledge of the Holy” as a discussion starter. You can read the introduction of the series here.]
Sometimes the attributes we are studying in this journey seem so simple and so uncontested that we have a hard time thinking God was any other way. And yet, when we get past the immediate statement “God is _______,” we find there are a hundred different scenarios where our belief in these attributes is tested and we find ourselves acting as if that quality wasn’t true. The attribute of God’s goodness fits nicely in that category. All of us like to believe God is good. Very few have probably trusted in God’s goodness in a way that satisfies their heart in the hour of testing. And that is the journey in front of us as we look at God’s goodness.
In fact, goodness is such a common word, so easily spoken and believed, that Tozer begins the chapter defining “goodnesss.” What is it? What do we mean when we say it about God? Many think it means God is right or holy or pure. But when we talk about God’s goodness, we are actually talking about His capacity to do good to mankind. He is full of good will towards the most sinful of us and this reality should stagger us and change how we live.
There are tremendous implications of a God dedicated to doing good to mankind. All of our relationship to God and our hope in securing His favor is based on the fact that God is good. Something about God caused Him to want to do good toward us rebels. And because of this fact, we are able to enter into a relationship with this good God through the sacrifice of His Son and access an innumerable amount of prosmises. Because God’s goodness is part of His nature, it is “self-caused, infinite, perfect, and eternal.” God’s reason for being good has nothing to do with us or our merit. He does it because He wants to be good to us.
This is why we can trust that when we come to God, He will not despise us or act unfavorably toward us. Quoting Meister Eckhart, Tozer reminds us that a man who repents of a life full of more sin than all the sin of every age could come to Jesus in repentance and find God as being good towards him. In our day, we can say that Hitler, the most vile abortion doctor, the greediest Wall Street Banker, and the man who traffics women and young boys could all find mercy from this good God, if they come to Him in repentance.
Tozer’s response to the sinner who comes to Christ wondering how God will treat him is to point the sinner to Christ. In Christ we see how God acts in every circumstance. To the hypocrite and the poser, Jesus may remain distant. But to the broken, the poor in spirit, the self-hater, and the destitute, they will all find Jesus welcoming them into the goodness of God. Tozer closes reminding us that our relationship with God is a paradox: because God is great, we tremble in holy fear, but because God is good, we draw close, knowing God will be good to us.
I thoroughly enjoyed today’s chapter, because this is one of those chapters that gets to the heart of the gospel and our own hearts. Jesus calls us to be good to everyone because our Father is good to everyone, even His enemies (Matthew 5:44-45). But so often I find myself running out of goodness to give to others. So often I find myself being overcome by the poor response of others. But God has called us to not base our responses to them on how they respond to us, but on how God responds to us. And because God is an infinite source of goodness, we should have a never ending source to pull from.
For that reason, I want to call you, dear brothers and sisters, to taste the Lord’s goodness (Psalms 34:8). When we taste the refreshing goodness of the Lord, it’s easier to be good to those around us. When we aren’t encountering the Lord’s goodness, it’s easy for us to become bitter and disappointed with the actions of others. Instead, we remind ourselves of the Lord’s goodness. We remember that we didn’t deserve goodness, but Christ showed it to us anyways. As we do, we become thankful and see more of the Lord’s good hand in our lives. We begin to acknowledge what has already been good and we see more of it as well. The goodness that flows from God to us as we renew our minds in this way will naturally flow to others.
But friends, we cannot sit back and resist the Lord’s goodness. We have to become hearty souls hungry for the Lord’s goodness.To the degree that we don’t, we will become like the older brother in the story of the prodigal son, always trying to do well and living at the Father’s house, but at the end of the day very distant from our Father’s heart. Let’s fear that reality and know that by simply being willing to receive God’s goodness, we can have the Father’s heart and be filled with joy.
That’s my takeaway today. What’s yours? Leave a comment so we can all grow together!
Day 16: The Goodness of God
Day 17: The Justice of God
Day 18: The Mercy of God
Day 19: The Grace of God
Day 20: The Love of God
Day 21: The Holiness of God
Day 22: The Sovereignty of God
Day 23: The Open Secrett