Monday, August 31, 2009

Musings on "Good"

It is difficult to think of the creation account without the words “and it was good” popping into your mind. Just four verses into Genesis, we encounter the word good for the first time in the Bible. In addition, in that first chapter God declares things to be good six more times. Since good is one of those words we’ve known the meaning of since we began to speak English, we don’t stop to think much more about it. Good is good. Right? Well not quite.

The Random House Webster’s College Dictionary 1996 lists 49 definitions for the word good and tells us good can be used as an adjective, adverb, or noun. The adjective good means “of a favorable character or tendency” and intensifies the word it modifies as does the adverb good. When used as a noun good has more insightful definitions that include “something conforming to the moral order of the universe,” “something useful or beneficial,” or “advancement of prosperity or well-being.”

I’m not sure it is possible to understand the meaning of the concept good by isolating any one of these definitions. Instead the meaning becomes clearer as we explore them all. Certainly when our Father in Heaven acknowledged the world as good it was because it was pleasant and benign, but it was much more than that–it was all that is good. It conformed to the moral order of the universe and was not only useful but necessary for us to achieve prosperity, happiness, and well being.
When thought of in these ways, the pronouncement “it is good” takes on whole new meaning. When created, the earth was benign. It didn’t heave its waters onto the land to flood and destroy. It didn’t rumble and quake its sure foundation so that cities fell in ruin and valleys pushed to unattainable heights. In the beginning, the earth was benign. All it produced and did was to benefit mankind. It protected and promoted the welfare of all that God created and thus it was good.

While the Genesis account underscores the fact that all God made is good. Mormon turns it around to explain that “All things which are good cometh of God” (Moroni 7:12). Just as there are many definitions of the word good, there are endless good things in this world. The choices we have for participating in good are limitless. No matter what a person likes to do, there is plenty of good to choose from. As a matter of fact, there is so much good that every person on earth can find something to satisfy his or her own interests within the realm of good. All that matters is that we are part of that vast array of the good God has created–that we contribute to the prosperity, happiness, and well being of God’s children. If we do this, one day God will say to us, “Well done thou good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21).


Wendi said...

I especially liked the last paragraph. Thanks. :)

Sherrie Mills Johnson said...

Wendi, Thank you. It is a great time to think about and anticipate!