Loving His Goodness

You might have heard or said “God is good – all the time. All the time – God is good.” I’m sure we all believe God is good, but what do we really mean when we say it? When we think of people we would call good, we usually mean they are law-abiding, kind, generous and helpful, among other things. God is all of those, except he’s the one who created laws of all kinds so saying he’s law-abiding doesn’t mean the same thing as it applies to humans. Another difference is that God not only does good, but his goodness is who he is.

We could spend a lot of time talking about all the good things he does, like creating the varieties of food, spices, herbs, fibers for clothing, flowers, animals, water, the sun, moon and stars, not to mention salvation and redemption – the list is endless. The list of who he is in his goodness is also endless, so much that we can’t comprehend the extent of it. But we do know love is the essence of who he is, and that means he cannot be or do anything that goes against his nature. He is always true to who he is. He doesn’t lie (Titus 1:2) and he is faithful (1 Corinthians 1:9). “He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he (Deuteronomy 32:4, NIV).

When we hear about acts of kindness or goodness in others, we applaud and admire them. We also desire goodness in ourselves and we know human goodness comes only from God. But his goodness is so real we can taste it: “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him” (Psalm 34:8, NIV). May we never forget his goodness and may it give us many more reasons to love him. 

A Thousand-Watt Smile

Years ago, I watched The Visual Bible: Matthew, which came out in 1993. The entire script was made up of only the words in the book of Matthew. I also got to meet the actor who portrayed Jesus, Bruce Marchiano. He shared at a women’s conference how he studied for the role. He was looking for something to help him and came across a little out of print book in the back of a bookstore called Jesus, Man of Joy, by Sherwood Wirt (it’s now available on Amazon). He said it really opened his eyes to how joyful Jesus was and it changed the way he depicted him.

I remember Jesus smiled at times during the book of Matthew but the smile that stuck in my mind after all these years was at the end of the movie, after the resurrection. Jesus walks away from the empty tomb with a huge smile on his face, beckoning us to come along. I couldn’t help getting goosebumps at the wonderful feeling of accomplishment he must have had and the excitement of us following him, the conqueror of sin and death.

We probably don’t think of Jesus smiling when we read the gospels, but I’m sure he did. Though a man of sorrows (Isaiah 53:3), he was anointed with the oil of joy (Psalm 45:7; Hebrews 1:9). I also believe he smiles when he thinks of us (Zephaniah 3:16-17). His smile is just another reason to love Jesus. His smile makes me smile!

Jesus the Munificent

We all love generous people. Those who go above and beyond with gifts, money and even time make us feel loved, appreciated and uplifted. An unexpected gesture of generosity can make us feel valued as a person. And this is another thing I love about Jesus. He was (and continues to be) not merely the most generous person who ever lived, but munificent in his giving, which “suggests a scale of giving appropriate to lords or princes” (Merriam-Webster online dictionary).

Not only did he empty himself, not considering equality with God something to grasp or take advantage of, he made himself “nothing” to become a servant to us (Philippians 2). With “warmhearted readiness” (Merriam-Webster), he gave everything he was and had so we can have abundant life now, and live with him forever. I can’t think of a more generous act or a more loving gift. Jesus told us there is no greater gift than to lay down one’s life for his friends (John 15:13) – he calls us friends and he laid down his life for us.

In this incredible, loving act of munificence, he makes us feel loved, appreciated and valued. He elevates our humanity by first assuming our sinful humanity to save us from ourselves and then sharing his humanity with us. I love his warmhearted readiness, his lavish, unremitting giving, his liberal and unstinting generosity, giving not merely as humans give, but on a scale above and beyond that of lords, princes, kings and emperors. What a munificent Savior!

How Do I Love Him?

I love riding my bike. One time I was going on about riding and how much I enjoy it and a friend asked, what do you like about it? I answered: “Everything!” I like working hard to climb a hill and then flying down. I love the freedom of exploring new places and I even love the clothes (yes, the shorts too). It’s the same when I think about what I love about Jesus – everything!

His humility is especially attractive and intriguing. One of my favorite passages in the New Testament is Philippians 2. Paul tells us Jesus made himself nothing to become one of us. His humility and self-emptying (kenosis) are astounding. For the creator of space, time, the universe, earth and all it holds to give up the glory he shared with the Father and the Spirit is something we can hardly comprehend. He continued to show humility to everyone he encountered. It was most evident when he went to the cross, humbling himself to die a criminal’s death, enduring the ultimate shame and derision to lay down his life for us.

Humility is a rare commodity today. It’s scary because it usually means giving up something of ourselves and everything within us tells us not to because we think it will hurt or diminish us. It’s one of those supernatural laws that seems contradictory, that whoever wants to save their live will lose it, but whoever loses their life for Jesus will save it (Matthew 10:39, 16:25; Mark 8:35; Luke 9:24). Jesus is so full of humility that he will even share his with us. This is the only way to true humility – for him to fill us with his, which at the same time empties us of our arrogance. Humbled by his humility – that’s something to ponder!

What Do You Love About Him?

Thinking about last week’s post regarding the kindness of God reminded me of something I read in a book called The Organic God by Margaret Feinberg. She said someone asked her what she loves most about Jesus. Here is her answer: “In his interactions with people, Jesus flashed the beauty of his Father, a God who is breathtakingly beautiful. Such beauty is a reflection of his holiness, a representation of the harmony of the Trinity, and its expression is manifested throughout creation.”

There are many things to love about him and we could even wonder what’s not to love about Jesus. Getting to know him better and going deeper in relationship with him could be enhanced by meditating on specific aspects of his nature, character and personality. What do you love about him?

Besides his kindness toward us, I love his gentleness. In both Isaiah 43 and Matthew 12, we are told he won’t break a bruised reed or snuff out a smoldering wick. He was gentle with children, who are sometimes like a bruised reed, easily overlooked and harmed by careless words and mistreatment. He was gentle with women, especially those who were hurting and downtrodden. He is gentle with us, kindly and gently loving us to greater depths of relationship and maturity in him. He doesn’t kick us when we’re down. He understands our weaknesses to the point of protecting and guarding us as you would a flickering candle.

His gentleness shows us how to not only treat others, but how to treat ourselves. May his gentleness lift you up and keep you going.