Sunday, January 9, 2011

What does "good" mean?

This morning I had the joy of preaching at Brazos Covenant Ministries in Granbury, Texas.  The ministry is led by Merrie Cardin.  Merrie is one of our executive council members for Texas Apostolic Prayer Network.  During worship the Lord began to speak to us of His goodness.  He declared how good He is.  We acknowledged that His creation (including us) is good!

But what does "good" mean? My wife Kay got my attention during our singing and showed me the following quote:

The first use of this word is in Genesis chapter one where God calls his handiwork "good". It should always be remembered that the Hebrews often relate descriptions to functionality. The word "tov" would best be translated with the word "functional". When looked at his handiwork he did not see that it was "good", he saw that it was functional, kind of like a well oiled and tuned machine. In contrast to this word is the Hebrew word "ra". These two words, "tov" and "ra" are used for the tree of the knowledge of "good" and "evil". While "ra" is often translated as evil it is best translated as "dysfunctional". 

My heart leapt. Oftentimes when we use the word "good" we think of a job well done or we speak of someone's performance. We call someone "good" if they show good moral qualities.  

"You did a good job."  "You are a good person."

Good can also seem mediocre in comparison with words such as excellent, beautiful or wonderful.  Those are words I would have used to describe creation in Genesis 1.  But God used "good," but not as a word describing beauty or moral character.  He looked on creation and saw that it functioned well - perfectly.  And He used the same word to describe you and me.  He created us to function perfectly - like well oiled machines.  He created us in His image!  He created us for a destiny to be kingdom people - royalty meant to reign with Him.

Yes we fell.  But even more so we are redeemed through the Lord Jesus.  We are redeemed back to God's original intention.  We are redeemed to function as His kings and priests.  We are redeemed, not as dysfunctional, tattered and worn out saints, but as those empowered to be agents of redemption in a world crying out for help.

The Lord is good.  The Lord declares to you, "you are good!"
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