Have you ever eaten a exceptionally delicious meal and remarked on how good it was? How about reading a particularly satisfying novel or watching a movie with just the right ending? We call these things good because something about them gives us a deep sense of gratification. Strangely, superlatives like “awesome,” “wonderful” or “fabulous” seem less appropriate than the word “good.”
For Christians, the word “good” takes on a special meaning because is applies uniquely to the Lord. Consider this exchange between Jesus and a man who came to Him:
18 A ruler questioned Him, saying, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 19 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. 20 You know the commandments, ‘Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.’” 21 And he said, “All these things I have kept from my youth.” 22 When Jesus heard this, He said to him, “One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” 23 But when he had heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich. 24 And Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God! 25 For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 They who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?” 27 But He said, “The things that are impossible with people are possible with God.” ~~Luke 18:18-27 (NASB95)
For a moment, let’s concentrate our attention on verses 18-19, where Jesus pointed out the use of the word “good.” I don’t know if the man used it casually or as flattery, but Jesus certainly picked up on it. Jesus didn’t reject being called good, but He instead marveled that the ruler made a subconscious connection between Him and divinity. Very discreetly, He used the opportunity to affirm that He indeed is good because He is God.
When we teach younger women what is good, therefore, we teach them about Jesus. We teach Who He is, what He has done and how to reflect Him in our lives. Obviously, we teach these things by teaching them Biblical doctrine. That rich ruler may not have understood the profound implications of addressing Jesus as “Good Teacher,” but we do have knowledge of those implications, giving us the responsibility to pass that knowledge down to our younger sisters in Christ.
Time doesn’t allow me to write in detail everything older women should be teaching about the Lord. Hopefully many other articles on this blog provide various aspects of Who He is and how He wants us to conduct ourselves as godly women. Here, I simply want to make the point that teaching what is good requires us to focus on the One Who alone deserves to be called good.
The remainder of the Luke 18:18-27 passage accentuates the truth that only God is good. We see the rich ruler desperately trying to obtain eternal life through his own supposed goodness. He firmly believed that he had kept all God’s commandments since childhood. Of course he hadn’t — Jesus is the one Human Being Who can honestly make that claim. But rather than argue with the fellow, Jesus issued a challenge that exposed the guy’s idolatry of material wealth. In so doing, He dismantled his illusions that he could ever be good enough to merit salvation.
Observers were shocked when Jesus said that it was extremely difficult for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. First Century Jewish culture taught that material wealth signified that a person had God’s favor. As a result, everyone assumed that the rich stood the best chance of obtaining eternal life, particularly if they kept (or claimed to keep) all the commandments. When Jesus exposed the ruler’s idolatry of wealth, the observers wondered how anyone could be saved.
And that was when Jesus revealed that salvation, though impossible to obtain by human means, was assuredly not impossible for God to accomplish. Although He didn’t outline the full plan of salvation at the moment, He foreshadowed the Good News that God would make the way of salvation for hopeless sinners.
And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. ~~Ephesians 2:1-7 (NASB95)
Verse 4 of the Ephesians passage contrasts our innate sinfulness with God’s innate goodness. He showed His goodness by sending His Son to die on the cross as our substitute, taking the penalty for all our transgressions against Him. He gave us this amazing gift of eternal life because of His mercy and great love, therefore displaying the surpassing riches of His grace and kindness. As He grants believers eternal life, He confirms just how good He is!
Teaching the wonders of His love should be a priority in mentoring younger women, even if they have been Christians for years. Furthermore, teaching ourselves the Good News should be a priority, as we train ourselves to depend more and more on Him. The Gospel can never be exhausted, nor can any of us hear too much about Jesus and all He’s done for us. And whenever we feast on the knowledge of Him, we come away saying, “That’s good!”