What is Good?


“Good” is a relative term. Things labeled as good: desirable; having moral value; being pleasurable or satisfying, are good, at least by human standards. The trouble is, what is good for one may not be good for another, especially when related to God. Isaiah 55:8-9 clearly speaks of that contrast.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9[1]

Good recognized by man [relative] is always secondary to good defined by God [absolute]. Good defined by God is always good. Those of you who knew Gordon Langeneger knew well he was a GOOD man. If you saw his work, you would say it was exceptionally GOOD!

Contrast of Viewpoints

            Deeds, efforts, and accomplishments in life that appear good or righteous, moral, or advantageous in the eyes of man do not always represent the moral qualities or righteousness demands of a holy and just God – “good” does not get you into heaven (Titus 3:5).

“He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy”

A hero may save another from drowning or burning to death in a fire – efforts recognized by most as being good. By temporal standards, it is good to rescue someone but, if that person subsequently dies without securing a relationship with the Lord, the good produced by that effort is of no good for all of eternity. Solomon labels that effort as “futility” – emptiness. By God’s standards, all people are, “not so good” – “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23) and need ETERNAL rescue. By a simple act of faith, they can be rescued forever. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you WILL be saved...” (Acts 16:31). I hope you can see the contrast of viewpoints related to “what is good”.

            You might ask, from where does this conflict arise? How is it that man’s definition of good and God’s are different? Human viewpoint encompasses everything that interacts with humanity each day. Scripture tells us that Satan is the ruler of the world (John 12:31), the prince of the power of this world (Eph. 2:2), and the God of this world (2 Cor. 4:4). Just living in this world paints man with the brush of arrogance, rebellion, deceit, and yes – human viewpoint. As man learns, in school, in the home, in church, or in business, human viewpoint builds a foundation of defining “what is good”. By admiring the possessions of life, and getting comfortable with what your eyes see, the world builds a perspective of good which stands in contrast with God’s viewpoint “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world“. (1 Jn. 2:16). The fact that God provides is a good thing, but when man is enamored by God’s provisions to the exclusion of the Provider, that good changes complexion.

            To those who ignore or disavow the existence of God, good comes in many different packages, usually with the appeal to ‘self’. Philosophers throughout history have pointed to happiness as the highest good. Some taught the subject of good by contrasting pain and pleasure. Naturally, being without pain is much more enjoyable [good] than living a life that includes pain [bad]; ‘self’ becomes the judge and final determiner of good. After all, who does not want to pursue self-pleasure as the ultimate in life. Life goals, career, friendships, and romantic passions are all-important to feeling good, but are they really GOOD? Do they have ETERNAL value?

            Every once and a while something happens that forces man to seriously consider the question of what’s next – that ‘next’ might be a financial dilemma, a health scare, or maybe a funeral.[2] What if you were face-to-face with God and He asked you, “Why should I let you into heaven?” Would you have a “good” answer? Are your credentials as a “good person” good enough to allow you access, or would your life fall short of God’s standard for GOOD? What is your preparation for eternity? What is ‘next’ for you?

            Interestingly enough, God’s standard of good on eternal matters lays in His Son – Jesus Christ, and His provision is not only good but it is also free – “…the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom. 6:23b). Personal/human good has no value to secure eternal life. Apart from God, good can only be seen in moral accomplishments – behavior acknowledged by many as being good, selfishly based on “feelings” – I know I am good because I feel good. Unfortunately, everything short of God’s standard for good is “empty, having NO value whatsoever”.

God views life as sacred and that is why He has made provisions for life on earth and in heaven, “good” provisions! If your response to eternal questions is, “I hope to go to heaven”, then maybe it is time secure what is lasting and GOOD. The Bible is very direct when it says, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). Gordon Langeneger knew the Lord. He was secure with the reality of where he would spend eternity. If you are unsure, today is a good day to make it right.

None of us knows what tomorrow will bring – maybe it will be good, maybe not so good!

Bibliography accessed 12/1/2016 accessed 11/21/2016

Stanley, Andy, How Good is Good Enough, Andy Stanley, 2003

Thieme, Jr., R. B., Mental Attitude Dynamics, Houston, TX: R. B. Thieme, Jr. Bible Ministries, 2000

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