Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? Romans 2:4
When God is kind to me and our family, it draws me into an attitude of repentance. This is because when I receive something good, I feel as though I do not deserve it and God’s goodness compels me to evaluate my heart in search of idols and attitudes that would hinder intimacy with Him.
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart:
Try me, and know my thoughts:
24 And see if there be any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting.
The last six years in China and Taiwan has been a showcase of God’s kindness. My experiences have taught me to pray for God’s goodness rather than seek happiness according to my own wisdom. Here is what I’ve learned about God’s goodness and how it applies to everyday life:
The purpose of God’s goodness is to stir us into repentance:
Apart from the God who made us in His own image, any pursuit of happiness independent from Him is destined to fail. At best all we might manufacture is superficial and short lived. If you are in a regular habit of reading God’s word so that you might learn who He is, one of the outcomes is that you will begin to recognize God’s goodness towards you as well has God’s heart for you. Because of the sin nature we are born into, no one comes to God really understanding who God is. Everyone first meets God with their own ideas of what happiness is, and we are inclined to ask God to grant us our happiness according to what we think. But this is what God is calling us to repent of, the pursuit of our own version of happiness.
At some point or another, we ought to discover God’s goodness is far greater than the ideas of happiness we come to God with. We pray like pagans, asking or even demanding of God what we feel should happen. But what does it mean to believe God if not to believe His version of goodness is better? Jesus Christ is the ultimate proof of this. When no one understood Him or the cross, He accomplished all the blessings we received through the Gospel, even eternal life. If left to us, we would be satisfied with only getting earthly material things or small successes that will one day perish with this world. No one thought what we most need is reconciliation and forgiveness of sin. But when we were ignorant of what we needed the most, Jesus Christ patiently and willingly became our Savior through a humiliating death.
Though we come to God often with different motivations, still we are changed by the Gospel. Seeing Christ willing to submit His will to the Father acts as our example, teaching us to repent and find happiness in God’s will for our lives.