Following Jesus doesn’t make sense apart from the belief that God is truly good and that He wants the best for His children. I don’t avoid certain behaviors such as getting drunk, sleeping around, or gossip because I want to earn God’s favor or approval. Rather, my obedience is inspired by a deep conviction that God is good, and that His way of life will bring me the most joy – both now and in the long run. Likewise, every time I give into sin, it’s because for a moment I doubted God’s goodness and was deceived into thinking that He was withholding something good from me. If we lack an understanding of God’s goodness, we will also lack spiritual zeal and obedience. It’s that simple.
So, how do we grow in our assurance of God’s goodness? Let me suggest three spiritual practices that have strengthened my faith in this area.
- Confession: Come Clean to God
Confession is how we come clean to God about our faults and reveal to him the naked truth of our shortcomings. What does this have to do with God’s goodness, you ask? When we confess our sins to God, something profound happens: We receive God’s unconditional love for what it is – unconditional. You see, God doesn’t respond to our confession with shock, contempt, or scorn. He loves us, forgives us, and makes us clean (1 John 1:9). This may come as a surprise at first, but after a while you’ll realize that God responds this way because He is just that good. The beauty of confession is that it gives us an experiential understanding of God’s goodness, and allows us to encounter His kindness first-hand.
God’s love toward us is unconditional, but we won’t experience His love as such if we cover up our sin. It’s when we are honest about our sin, and we see that His love toward us hasn’t changed, that we experience His unconditional love and see God for who He is – good.
- Thanksgiving: Acknowledge God’s Provision
God’s goodness surrounds us and is manifested in innumerable ways. It can be seen in our daily provisions, such as food and shelter, in the beauty of a mountain landscape, or in the consolation of a friend. Seeing God’s goodness is the challenge. That’s because we live in a society that is bombarded with busyness and negativity. As the cliché goes: We never take time to smell the roses – we either walk right by them or choose to only see the thorns. Once we slow down and acknowledge God’s provision – the roses in our lives – we will realize that our world is like a flower shop decorated with infinite bouquets of God’s goodness and grace.
Thanksgiving, when made a daily habit, strengthens our awareness of God’s kindness, and is a remedy to the pessimistic and hurried culture in which we find ourselves. When we practice thanksgiving, we are choosing to see God’s goodness in our lives and in the world.
- Remembrance: Hear the Gospel Message Daily
Finally, to be convinced that God wants the best for us, we must continually hear and remember the gospel message – that God gave His one and only Son in order to redeem a sinful and rebellious world. There is no clearer, or more convincing, example of God’s goodness than His act of salvation. God demonstrated His love, and goodness, in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). Receiving God’s gift of salvation is a one-time decision, remembering it must be a daily discipline. Read the gospel. Hear the gospel. Preach the gospel. Do whatever it takes to remember God’s goodness revealed in Christ Jesus.
It’s not enough to believe that God is real. We also need to believe that He is good. Until then, we will always view following Jesus and things like prayer, obedience, and sacrifice as obligations to fulfill rather than opportunities to seize.
As I confess my sins, practice thanksgiving, and remember the gospel message, I am continually assured that God is good and that a life in pursuit of Jesus is the only way to live.