The Goodness of God
Tim Temple

Introduction

As we continue our study about God and being people who know their God, we want to think now about the goodness of God. We have been looking at some of the infinite attributes of God. We have talked about His holiness; we have talked about His glory; we have talked about His wisdom, and today we want to think about His goodness. I say that these are infinite attributes of God because they are attributes that permeate His whole being. They are attributes that are sort of in the background of everything that we know about God. In our next lesson, we are going to begin looking at some of the active attributes of God—that is, the things that He specifically does, the fact that He knows everything, the fact that He has all power, those kinds of things. They are things that we might think of as active attributes.

Today we want to think about the goodness of God. As I planned this series of studies and thought ahead as to how we would approach the subject, I found that the most difficult part of the subject was knowing how to approach these various things about God, because this truth about God is scattered in various places throughout the Bible. What we are trying to do is pull all of these things together and put them together and talk about them as a unit. As I made a general plan for the way that we approach this series, I came to the subject of goodness and found that it would fall at this point in the series.

I am interested in how God's timing is always perfect. As we come to the study of God's goodness, I cannot think of a better subject for the Thanksgiving season than to cause ourselves to think about the goodness of God. As we move through our subject in this lesson, we are going to see that the expected response to the goodness of God is praise and thanksgiving. God, in ordering the design of this series of studies, has brought it about that this is the week that He wants us to think about the very thing that men have set aside as a holiday at this particular time of the year.

Many times in our services and other Christian activities we sing the little chorus “God is so good; God is so good. God is so good to me.” It is a simple little praise chorus, and we have sung it here many times; but as simple as that little chorus is, it is good theology, because a part of the essence and being of God is that He is so good. Not only that, but He is so good to me. Thank God that we have a God who is infinitely good, but we should even be more thankful that that goodness is directed personally to you and me. That is what we want to think about in this study.

A Definition of God's Goodness

A theological definition of the goodness of God is “the collective perfections of His nature and the benevolence of His acts.” I always like to give you what the theologians say about these things, because their definitions are usually the most thorough and try to cover all of the various aspects of it, but usually they are also the ones that make the least sense.

I like what the Psalmist said in Psalm 119, verse 68. It is a very good definition of the goodness of God. He said:

Psalms 119

68Thou art good, and doest good…

I like that. That is a good definition of the goodness of God. “You are good, and you do good.” A working definition of the goodness of God is this: God is good by nature, and He is good at what He does. God is good by nature; the very essence of God is that He is a good God. Not only that, He is also very, very good in everything that He does.

Questioning God's Goodness

This is a subject that is easy to talk about in church when we have been singing hymns and we've been talking about the Lord's death in our behalf, but we all know that there are many people around us in the world today—sometimes we ourselves have those feelings—who question the goodness of God. Something happens in our lives and we think, “Wait a minute. I thought God was supposed to be a good God. I thought that God's promise was to do good things for us.”

That kind of questioning about the goodness of God goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden. If we talk about the goodness of God, we have to be honest with ourselves and recognize the fact that there are times when we ourselves question the goodness of God. There are many people who live lives of questioning the goodness of God. There are even among that larger number who question the goodness of God, a number of people who have decided that that is not true, that God is not good.

I want us to think about that for a minute. Back in Genesis, chapter 3, is the story of how Satan came and tempted Eve to sin. His approach to her was a very interesting approach, and it had to do directly with the goodness of God. You will remember that he sidled up beside her and he said, “Are you allowed to eat of all of these trees in the garden?” And Eve said, “Oh yes, we are allowed to eat of all the trees except for one. God has said that we can not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” Satan said, “Has God said?” Then he began to question the goodness of God.

Without taking the time to go into all the details of those verses, what Satan said to her in effect was, “You know, God really is not as good as He says He is, because look what God has done. He has held something back from you. Would a good God hold something back from you?” Satan's first line of attack to bring sin into the human race was to question the goodness of God. Instead of looking at all of those trees they could eat from and all of the good things that God had provided for them, Eve began to focus on the one thing that God had said they couldn't have.

The chapter goes on to tell us that God had a very good reason for telling them they could not have that thing, but her focus became the thing that she could not have. One Bible commentator said, “Once Satan got Eve to focus on the one tree she couldn't eat from, rather than the hundreds that she could enjoy, she lost sight of God's goodness and plunged herself, her family, and the rest of the world into sin.” You see, the very origin of sin in the human race had to do with a questioning of the goodness of God.

Let me say right here at the outset that this is not just a minor league doctrine. This is a very basic and underlying truth about God, that God is a good God and to question that is an extremely dangerous thing to do. It has extremely serious consequences. This is a warning that we need to give, because, as I have already said, it is something that happens to all of us at one time or another. We get to looking at what God has not done instead of all of those good things that He has done. We get to thinking about what God has done for somebody else that He hasn't done for us, hasn't done yet for us. Maybe we think that He will never do that for us; maybe He won't, but we begin to focus on what God has not done, rather than all the good things that He has done.

The Standard of God's Goodness

As we think about the seriousness of understanding the goodness of God and having a right attitude about the goodness of God, I want to bring out five things about the goodness of God. The first point is that God's goodness is the standard by which all goodness is judged. What is good anyway? What do we mean when we talk about something being good? What do we mean when we say something is better than something else? How do we decide what good is?

In Mark, chapter 10, there is the story of the young ruler calling on Jesus. He came to Jesus, and he opened his conversation with Jesus by saying, “Good Master,” and asking his question. Jesus turned the tables on him and really kind of set him up in Mark 10, verse 18, by saying:

Mark 10

18And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.

What Jesus was saying in effect, if we took the time to study through that whole passage, was, “If you are saying I am good, you are calling Me God. Are you calling me God? Is that what you mean when you call Me good?” Jesus went on from establishing that point to teach him some important truths. However, we are not looking at this passage for that reason today. The reason that I am citing the passage today is to call your attention to that phrase, “There is none good, but God.” That is what we need to understand about God and His goodness. The bigger point is that anything that is good is from God, and anything that is not good is not from God. The standard by which we determine what is good and what is not good is its relationship to God.

Understanding What is Good

Let me give you some examples. There are many things in life that seem to be good; for example, to carry it to its extreme, drugs give people a good feeling. Why do you think people become addicted to drugs? It's not because they enjoy living life on the street, scrounging around trying to find another dollar to buy more drugs. It's not because they enjoy the lifestyle that drugs lead to. Drugs give a good feeling temporarily, a wonderful feeling of euphoria. It is only temporary, but it seems to be good. The term that people have lived by through the years has been expressed in various ways, but probably the most recent expression of it is, “if it feels good, do it.” That was popular back during the sixties and seventies, and people still live by that term, however they express it.

In the business world today, one of the guiding principles unfortunately is, “If it works, let's do it.” It doesn't matter whether it is legal or not, necessarily. It doesn't matter whether it is morally right or not, but if it works, if we can put this deal together and nobody calls our hands on it, and it will make a profit, let's do it. You see, there are many things that humans think of as good, in the sense of making me feel good or making money for me, that are really not good when they are judged by the standard of God.

On the other hand, on the other side of the coin, there are many things that have been proven to be good for us that don't seem good. Spinach is a good example of that. I'm a grown man now, so I don't have to eat spinach any more, but spinach, we know, is good for us. There are many, many people who don't like spinach.

The same thing can be applied to medicine. We know that medicine is good for us. It is necessary in many cases to be able to get over whatever it is that ails us, and yet in many cases that medicine tastes so bad or that injection hurts us so much that we don't think of that as a good thing. Not many people go down and buy a bottle of cough medicine and just drink it because it tastes good. It is good for us, but it may not seem good.

Running and other kinds of exercise are good for us, but they are not necessarily pleasant as we do them. We need to have a standard of what's good and what's not good, because we can't depend on what seems to us to be good. Do you see my point? There are things we know are not good for us, and yet they bring us temporary pleasure. There are other things that we know are good for us, and yet they are not enjoyable as we participate in them; only the end result is what's good. How do we decide what is really good and what is not good? The answer to that is that God is good and He does good. Therefore God is the standard by which all other good is determined; not our emotions, not our feelings, not what the crowd agrees about, but God is the standard for good.

Revealed In the Word of God

Fortunately, God has given us His Word, in which He reveals Himself to us, in which we can learn about God and about what He does, but the less you know about the Word of God, the less you are going to understand what is really good and what is not good. The more we know about the Word of God, the more we are going to understand about what is truly good and what is not. That is an extremely important ability for us to have in this day in which we live. There is such tremendous confusion about what is really good and what is not good, and we are so bombarded through the media with information and with people trying to tell us what's good and what's not. Being politically correct is the guiding principle of many people's lives. We need a standard of good, and we need to know what is good and what is not; God gives us that standard.

When Bad Things Happen

A question that often comes up when we talk like this about what the goodness of God is, “How can a good God let such bad things happen?” For example, we think about all the pain and sadness in Bosnia Herzegovina. We have heard over this weekend about the renewal of the fighting there, and in the Gaza Strip with all the conflict going on there. There is likely to be a civil war in the Gaza Strip among the Palestinians themselves. “How can a good God let those kinds of things happen?” Those are just two examples of many, many terrible things that happen.

Let's think about that for a minute. If someone comes to you with that question, and probably there have been people who have asked you that question, a good question to ask in response to that question is, “Let me ask you something. Would those bad things be happening if we could prove that God did not exist? If there was not a God, do you think those kinds of things would still be happening?” Of course they would! Why do those things happen? They happen because of man's inhumanity to man. Those bad things that happen—a mother killing her two children, and all kinds of other bad things—are people problems. Those are things that people are doing. Those acts don't have to do with whether God is a good God or not. The first approach to answering those kinds of questions is to understand that if it is not good, it is not from God, because God is good, and He does good. If we see something that is not good, the first thing that we know about it is that it is not from God. The first major point that we need to understand about the goodness of God is that He is the very standard by which all goodness is determined.

God's Goodness Expressed In His Attributes

The second point about the goodness of God is that His goodness is expressed in His attributes. Turn with me to Exodus, chapter 34. In chapter 33, God had been giving Moses instructions about his leadership of Israel, and Moses said in so many words, “LORD, I think I could do this job you are giving me to do if I could just see You. If You would just let me see Your glory, I believe that I could have what it takes to do this great job You have given me to do.” God answered Moses in verse 18 of chapter 33: “All right, I am going to let My goodness pass before you. You can't see Me and live. You couldn't stand to see all of My glory, but I will let My goodness pass before you.” In chapter 34, it begins to describe how God showed Moses His goodness. In verse 5, it says:

Exodus 34

5And the LORD descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD.
6And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, [by passing before him, He proclaimed] The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,
7Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.

Here we have a list of the various things that we know about God that demonstrate His goodness. Look at the kinds of things He showed Moses: merciful and gracious, longsuffering, abounding in goodness and truth. In verse 7, He becomes more specific—keeping mercy for thousands. How do we know that God is good? Just think how merciful God has been to you. Think about the things that you have done that deserve punishment from God that He has withheld that punishment. In the middle of verse 7, “forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin.” What a wonderful, wonderful understanding of the goodness of God; my sins have been forgiven and your sins have been forgiven, as we call upon the name of the Lord. What a good God He is!

The next phrase in the middle of verse 7 might not seem to be good on the surface, but He says, “By no means clearing the guilty.” How is that good? It's not good for the guilty, but think how good that is for society. One of the major problems in our society today, as we all know, is that we don't punish the guilty. We send a small minority of the guilty to prison where many of them live better than they did at home. We're going to make them stop smoking before long, but my goodness, we clear the guilty. God doesn't clear the guilty. He visits the iniquity of the fathers upon the children's children unto the third or fourth generation. So how is that good?

We have talked about that in more detail at other times, but what that verse is saying is that God only visits the iniquity to the third and fourth generation. Think how terrible it would be if that iniquity continued generation after generation after generation. God in His mercy stops it after the third and fourth generation. Even in those cases where it does continue to that extent, God still forgives sin, and God delivers people from that slavery to sin.

This verse is also about God's goodness. It's not that He sentences people to that wickedness, but that even in those cases where people go on in their wickedness, God does not let it continue for multiple generations. He only lets it carry on through the next two or three generations. God is a good God in every sense of the word. Even those things that we might think are questionable are good things and are listed as part of God's goodness.

Goodness Revealed In God's Patience

Many other Scriptures refer to God as patient. That is one of God's attributes. Think how good it is that God is patient. If God were not patient every one of us in this room today would already be dead, and we realize that don't we? God is patient enough to give us time to come to grips with our sins and confess them to Him as sin. God is patient enough to let us keep living long enough to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ and get saved. God is a patient God, and that demonstrates His goodness.

Sometimes people say, “Wait a minute. What about Noah's flood, for example? Everybody in the world but eight people were killed in that flood.” In fact, the flood demonstrates the patience of God. If you know anything about the flood of Noah's day, you know that God waited a hundred and twenty years before He brought the flood. During that time, it says, “Noah was a preacher of righteousness.” Of course, he had the greatest object lesson in all the world—a boat that he was building that was the size of the Queen Mary—in a place where it had never rained before. What an opener for a sermon. “What are you building Noah?” “I'm building a boat.” “Oh, what's a boat?” “Well, a boat is something that is going to save me from all the rain that is going to come.” “Oh, what's rain?” “Well, rain is what God is going to send to judge you wicked sinners.” You see, Noah had a perfect setup, and for a hundred and twenty years God warned the people about the judgment that was going to come. God is a patient God, and thank God that He is.

The Goodness of God's Grace

God talks about His grace as one of His attributes. God is good enough to love us with no guarantee of return of our love to Him. The most difficult instruction, I believe, that God gives to men is, “Men love your wives as Christ loved the Church.” Do you know why a huge number of marriages end in divorce? Because a husband says, “I have tried to love my wife, and she just doesn't return my love.” This may be tough for you to hear, husbands, and it may be especially tough for those of you who are considering marriage, but let me tell you something. God says that you are to love your wives whether she loves you are not. “Love your wife as Christ loved the Church.” All that you have to do to see the force of that is be honest with yourself and ask yourself the question, “Do I love Jesus Christ commensurate, in a measure, with the way that He loved me? Do I return Christ's love in the way that He has loved me?” Of course, the answer is no. None of us respond to God's love to the degree that He deserves to be responded to. Of course, to the extent that we do respond to His love, we see more of His love and can understand His love more. God's grace demonstrates His goodness. He keeps on loving us even when we don't respond to His love.

You know, God loves us enough to tell us the truth. The fact that God has given us His truth and demonstrated His truth to us in so many ways is an evidence of His goodness. What is it we appreciate most in a relationship with another person? One of the things that we appreciate most is that they tell us the truth, isn't it? We really don't want somebody to lie to us. We want the truth even when many times the truth hurts. Sometime people say, “Would a loving God send somebody to Hell?” The answer is, “Yes, He would.” But God loves us enough to tell us that in advance. Nobody is going to be in Hell surprised to be there. The Word of God makes it extremely clear that everybody will have the perfect opportunity at the Judgment Bar of God to understand exactly why they have to be in Hell. The wonderful thing about that is that God loved us enough to tell us that in advance. Nobody needs to be caught off guard, because He loves us and His truth demonstrates His goodness. His goodness is expressed in His attributes, and His goodness is the standard by which all goodness is judged.

God's Provision for Man

There is a third thing that we want to discuss about the goodness of God, and that is that God's goodness is shown in His provisions for us. Turn with me to Genesis, chapter 1. Genesis chapter 1, of course, describes creation. In verse 27, we have a summary of things that have taken place up to this point. Genesis, chapter 1, verse 27:

Genesis 1

27So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
28And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
29And God said, [Now notice this] Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.
30And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.
31And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

Do you know what these verses tell us? These verses tell us that everything that is in the earth, all the plants and animals, all the things around us, were created and provided for man. God created man, and God created plants, trees, fish, birds and animals for the enjoyment of man and for the provision of the livelihood of man.

I could take off on this and preach against the radical environmentalists for the rest of the day. I'm not going to do that, but we are seeing this all around us, and unfortunately a lot of high-profile people get caught up in this crazy stuff. We hear a lot about it because some kooky movie star is doing it, but the animals were provided for man, not the other way around. God does not care how many spotted owls have to be killed in order for people to have a job cutting down trees and making furniture. God provided the trees and the animals and everything else for man, not the other way around. We are not equal with the birds; we are not equal with a snaildarter; we are not equal with the trees. They are for man.

Man's Responsibility for the Earth

Having said that, let's come to a major point. God shows His goodness by providing those things for us. Another important thing that Genesis, chapter 1, tells us is that man is responsible for the environment. There is a limited sense in which environmentalism is a biblical thing. God said, “Be stewards of the earth.” He gave us the earth, and He said, “You are to till the ground and to keep it.” To squander the environment or waste the environment is also unbiblical, but as is always the case, the Bible is right in the middle of where society takes it to one side or the other—in the middle of the two extremes of what goes on in our world today. On one extreme there are those who squander the earth's resources and waste the earth's resources. They have no care about the environment. On the other side of the extreme, there are people who say the birds, the fish, the trees, and the dirt are more important than man is. God says in the middle, “I have given you all these things. I am being good to you. I have given you trees and birds and plants. You are to be responsible to maintain these things.” It is the biblical middle, you see.

Every time we see a sun rise we ought to thank God for His goodness to us. How good it is that God keeps letting the planets revolve in their orbits and that we have twelve hours or so of sunshine every day. Sometimes the clouds are there, but we know who is behind all that. How thankful we should be every time we eat catfish or smell a rose or pet the dog. God has given us those things in His goodness. Those are all indications of His goodness. Even rainy, windy days are gifts of God to us. They all have their purpose; they are a part of all that He is doing for us.

Something else that I want to develop as a little sub-point of this is that not all of God's provisions are for everybody. It's important to remember that God is good to all men in some ways, but He is only good to some in all ways. Let me quickly think with you about that. In Matthew, chapter 5, verse 45, it says: “God sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.” God is good to send rain, but have you noticed it doesn't just rain on Christians' yards? God lets it rain on that neighbor of yours who is a scoundrel. Many of His blessings are for everybody, but Romans, chapter 8, verse 32, says that God giveth to Christians all blessings:

Romans 8

32He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?

You see, all of God's blessings are available to Christians. Only some of His blessings are available to those who are not believers, but God is so good that He even provides many of His blessings to those who are not even His children spiritually. The best blessing that God has given us is that He has given us His revealed Word by which we can know all things that pertain to life and godliness. He has also given us the Holy Spirit to guide us into the truth of that Word and give us a correct perspective on goodness and on life and on our relationship to God.

Goodness That Transcends the Negative

There is a fourth point about the goodness of God that I want us to think about today, and that is that God's goodness transcends the negative. Another way that God's goodness is demonstrated to us is that His goodness is greater than all of the negative things that we see going on around us. In Romans, chapter 8, there are some very familiar verses. We will begin reading in verse 28:

Romans 8

28And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
29For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

As you know, these verses do not say that everything is good. They say that everything works together for good. With that in mind then, Paul asks, in verses 31 and 32, an important question:

Romans 8

31What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?
32He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?

Another question comes out of that. In verse 35:

Romans 8

35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
36As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
37Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

Let's be honest. There are a lot of bad things that happen in the world. As I said earlier, those bad things cause some people to question the goodness of God or even the existence of God; and we do an injustice to God if we as Christians try to say, “Oh no, God doesn't let bad things happen.” That is ridiculous. The Word of God says that bad things happen, but what God says for us as His children is that He works even those bad things together for good. Those bad things are in the world because of sin. Because of sin we live in a world of AIDS, of personality conflicts, bad attitudes, social strife; even allergies are a part of God's curse on sin in the world. We can't deny those things or ignore them. Christians are exposed to those sins along with everybody else, and sometimes we fall into those sins. We go out and mingle with the world, and some of the world rubs off on us, and we become guilty of some of those sins. Of course, when that happens we need to wash our hands. I John, chapter 1, verse 9, says:

I John 1

9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

We don't have to get saved all over again. We just need to wash our hands. It is easy to get down and mingle with the cares of this world, get caught up in that, and begin to participate in sin ourselves, but God says that those things are not going to ruin you. He says that He is going to work all those things together for ultimate good, so God's goodness even transcends the bad things.

The important thing to remember in this is that the bad things that happen in the world are not because God is bad, but because man is bad. God allows those things, but God is able to transcend those things. He is able to overcome those things. Let's think about it this way. Let's say that you own a rent house, and as happens to most people who own rent houses, somewhere along the line some renters come into your house, and they turn out to be bad renters, and they trash your house. They just ruin it, and you have to spend a lot of time and money cleaning it up after they are gone so that you can rent it to somebody else. Why did that happen? Are you a bad person because your house got messed up? Of course not. Is your house a bad house because the house got messed up? Of course not. Why did the house get messed up? It is because the people who rented it were bad people.

That is exactly how God and His earth are. God created the earth; it is His earth. God allowed people to live on the earth. People do bad things to His earth. Does that mean the earth is bad? Does it mean that God is bad? No, it is the people who are bad, because sin came into the universe. God's world has become a sinful place.

God Allows Free Will

People then say, “Why did God allow people to sin in the first place? Isn't sin God's fault, because He could have kept Adam and Eve from sinning?” Now, here we come to one of the most basic elements of understanding the goodness of God in relation to the sinfulness of man. In Genesis, chapter 1, verse 27, it says, “Let us make man in our image.” The sense of that was that we could have fellowship with them. God wants our love and our fellowshp, but in order to have beings who could genuinely worship Him, He also had to have beings that could genuinely decide not to worship Him. God could have created a race of robots who could have done nothing but praise Him, but what would that have meant to Him? The best example I can think of is the difference in how thrilled you get when your little baby says, “Mama,” or “DaDa,” and the thrill you have when your walkie-talkie doll says that. You see, the doll can't say anything but that; it was made to say that, but when your child says that, because that child has the ability not to say that, and you well know he has the ability not to say that, it means a great deal. God had to create people who had the ability to refuse; otherwise, our love for Him would be meaningless. God, from the very beginning, created beings who chose to disobey Him, and with that brought bad things into the world. But that does not alter the goodness of God.

Motivation for Worship

God's goodness should motivate worship. Psalm 107, verses 1-2, say:

Psalm 107

1O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.
2Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy;

How do we respond to the goodness of God? The Psalmist said, “Let the redeemed of the LORD say so. Let the redeemed of the LORD give thanks unto the LORD.” Do you believe that God is good and that His mercy endureth to all generations? The response is, “Let the redeemed of the LORD say so.”

It is interesting to me how people are not afraid to say so about their winning football team. We love to talk about our team's winning, and we have been blessed this year with several winning teams in our area, and we like to talk about that. It is easy to talk about it, but how many times are we quiet when it comes to saying so about our good God? The natural response to goodness is to praise it. “Let the redeemed of the LORD say so.” God wants to hear praise like a wife does or a husband does.

I'm sure you have heard the story of the couple who got married, and the man was a man of very few words. As they came out the door of the church after the wedding was over, the man turned to his wife and said, “Honey, I want you to understand one thing. I love you. I love you enough to have married you. I am going to continue to love you from now on. Let's not hear anymore about it.” There are some husbands who didn't make that speech, but act that way, but how do you think a wife would like that? How do you think God would like that? The response to a loving, good God is to praise Him, and that comes from God Himself. The starting point for worship is thanking God. “Let the redeemed of the LORD say so.” Be thankful unto God and praise His name.

In Romans, chapter 1, when it talks about people moved away from God, it says, “They became vain in their imaginations; their foolish hearts were darkened. They understood the existence of God, and yet became thankless. They neither glorified God, neither were thankful.” The first step away from God is to stop being thankful. Therefore, the first step toward God is to become thankful. It is so easy to take God's provisions for granted. Have you ever stopped to think what would happen if He cut off the supply of any of those provisions that we think about every day? All you have to do is have the water in your neighborhood cut off for a little while to be able to envision what would happen if God decided to cut the water off for the world. What if God didn't let the sun come up in the morning? What if He didn't continue to provide you with the job you have so that you can feed your family?

You know, I have a couple of dogs that I inherited from my daughter, who is gone, but the dogs are still there. A friend once told me that life doesn't begin when the kids leave home; life begins when the kids leave home and the kid's dogs die. One interesting thing is that I have to take one of the dogs for a walk in the mornings just to keep him calm enough to stay in the yard throughout the rest of the day. We feed those dogs, we water those dogs, and do you know that neither one of those dogs has yet said, “Thank you,” for any of that.

There is a story told about a man walking down the street one day when a man came out of the house onto the sidewalk and handed him a twenty dollar bill. The stranger thought, “Boy, that's wonderful.” He made sure the man really wanted to give it to him and the man said, “Yea, it's yours. Take it.” He went on down the street. Next day he came down that same street again, as you might imagine. The guy came out of the house, handed him another twenty dollar bill. The man was thrilled about that, and the next day he came by and the same thing happened again. For ten days every time this man walked by the house, the homeowner would come out of the house and hand him a twenty dollar bill. The eleventh day he walked by that house, and the homeowner didn't come out. The guy ran up on the porch, and knocked on the door. The homeowner came to the door, and the man said, “Where is my twenty dollar bill?” That is a ridiculous story, but aren't we like that? God gives and gives and gives. We don't deserve any of it. We don't return anything to Him. We are not thankful. How do you think God must feel?

Our Response In Praise

We think it is ridiculous to talk about a dog thanking its owner. We think it is ridiculous for a man to expect someone to keep giving him twenty dollar bills just because he has done it the last ten days. Why do we not think it is ridiculous for us to take God for granted as we do? Isn't that ridiculous? A normal response to the goodness of God is to thank Him. How long has it been since you have sat down and before the Lord without making any request of any kind, just spent some time thanking God, just devoting a whole prayer to enumerating His blessings and thanking Him? Have you ever done that? That's what God wants to hear. The natural response to the goodness of God is for His people to praise Him.


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