Kendra Burrows

"...be transformed by the renewing of your mind..." (Romans 12:2)

God Is NOT Good — A Simple Reminder to Bring Every Thought Captive

Is a technology flaw an insidious tool or a powerful warning?

 

Autocorrect drives me crazy! You, too?

I text a friend between chores, and hit send without double-checking.

Sometimes the result is humorous, sometimes just odd.

But one particular instance is insidious.

When I type the word God, my smartphone inserts Good instead.

Praise Good!

Good bless you.

May Good be with you. — Star Wars, anyone?

autocorrect bring every thought captive

This annoyance reminds me to preview before I hit send.

But it also serves as a powerful admonition.

It’s deceptively simple to substitute Good for God.

We recognize when good happens — a brilliant sunset, lunch with a friend, sufficient funds in our bank account — without acknowledging God’s hand in it.

We talk about the good in the universe as if it’s dependent on Jedi Masters to defend.

Even the saying, “Thank goodness!” suggests a power of good in the world, but doesn’t name it.

Is it really some universal sense of Good we’re talking about? Or Jehovah, God Almighty, the Creator of the heavens and earth?

Perhaps you think I’m nit-picking. Am I making too much of the distinction between God and general Good in the world?

It’s subtle. But Satan loves subtle.

Why Does It Matter?

The Bible prompts us to bring every thought captive, and to destroy arguments against the knowledge of God (2 Corinthians 10:5).

When my phone autocorrects God to Good, it reminds me the world thinks of God — when they think of Him at all — as a ubiquitous Force for Good.

Why is this dangerous?

1. When we focus on Good in the world, we inadvertently equate ourselves with God.

We see goodness as a quality to attain:

  • He’s a good person.
  • What a good thing you did!
  • Look at all the good in the world.

We think of loaning our neighbor a tool, giving granola bars to the homeless, or helping a fellow shopper carry groceries to her car as good.

And the larger the sacrifice — a sizeable donation, weekly volunteering, a mission trip — the more we see ourselves as good.

None of these are bad actions.

But Jesus said:

“Why do you call me Good? No one is good except God alone” (Mark 10:18 ESV).

Even God’s own Son (and our Messiah) felt uncomfortable being called good.

As Christians and followers of the True God, we’re commanded to love others (Leviticus 19:18) and to do good to all (Luke 6:27; Hebrews 13:16; 1 Timothy 6:18).

In fact, the Bible cautions: this is our duty (Luke 17:10), and we sin if we don’t do what we know is right (James 4:17).

2. When we think of God as Good, it’s easy to view Him through the lens of what He does for us.

When happy events occur — grandma’s fever goes away, we earn a promotion, our kiddo passes his exam — of course, we praise God! (Psalm 150)

But when bad things happen, we hope — or pray — for Good.

Praying for our needs is appropriate (Matthew 7:7-11; John 15:7), but we miss the point when we think of God as the Good Wish Fairy.

The Apostle Paul said, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)

Sometimes we misunderstand the verse to mean we can expect God to help us achieve everything we desire. But the context around it sheds a different light. Paul said (emphasis added):

“I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:12-13)

The Bible doesn’t promise us every good thing we want. It promises God’s presence and strength will help us through every good and bad situation (Psalm 121; Isaiah 41:13).

3. God IS Good. But He’s so much more.

We short-change God’s role in the world — and in our lives — when we don’t acknowledge Him in all our ways, because He will make our paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-6).

God isn’t merely Good. He’s Holy.

And He calls us to be Holy, too. The apostle Peter writes:

“As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” “(1 Peter 1:15-16, ESV)

And Paul reminds us to:

“present [our] bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God…. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:1-2).

So, how do we substitute Good for God?

Unfortunately, I do this when:

  • I talk to my anti-Christian co-workers about my good fortune (or, when I’m feeling brave, my blessings) — without acknowledging Who the blessings are from.
  • I convince myself being nice is the right and good thing to do. Explaining hard but necessary truths should be done lovingly, but it’s often not nice. (My kids think it would be nice if I let them sleep late, but it’s not right or good for any of us.)
  • I rely on the phrase, “…but she’s a good person” — or worse, “…but I’m a good person.” This often means I’m not acknowledging unholy behavior.

As Satan prowls around seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8), he employs every tool in his arsenal to take our eyes off God.

Even something as seemingly innocuous as a technological glitch.

But we’re not unaware of his schemes (2 Corinthians 2:11)

In fact, one could argue it’s not an innocent glitch at all. Perhaps the manufacturer programmed the autocorrect with intention.

Regardless, it’s a part of this world, a daily reminder we’re in the enemy’s territory.

We can either allow this subtle glitch to slowly erode our mindset. Or we can use it as a reminder of God’s Holiness.

How do you inadvertently substitute Good for God? What everyday reminders — like the autocorrect on your phone or the most recent superhero movie — point you back to God?

P.S. — This great article I recently came across shares another danger of equating God and Good.

8 Replies

  1. So true. I defiantly like God doing “good” things for me. Ugh. I’m trying to learn to let go my my definition of good and trust His.

    1. Kendra Burrows

      It’s a hard journey, and I need lots of reminders. We’ll encourage each other, Kimberli!

  2. Elisa Gray

    I am learning to thank God for the, shall we say, challenges in my life. I’m not sure we even know when something actually is “good.” Just like your kids who want to sleep in, we think of good in terms or our comfort. And that might not be good at all. Now if I could just figure out how to gracefully insert God into my conversations more……I think that might be good.

    1. Kendra Burrows

      Yes!! I’m working on a post about that very thing: being thankful in ALL circumstances.

  3. Kendra, this is deeply insightful, and I appreciate you exposing the insidiousness of this practice. The one that drives me nuts is when people say, “I’ll be thinking happy thoughts!” Really? How about if you replace that with fervent prayer instead? Happy thoughts? How does that benefit anyone other than you? … if even that?

    1. Kendra Burrows

      You’re so right, Damon! Related: “All I can do is pray.” As if calling on the God of the Universe is less effective than bringing a casserole. But I catch myself saying it sometimes out of habit. (If you ever hear me, call me on it!)

  4. Pat

    Ouch! So much truth here I need to process. MercyMe’s song, “Even If” works right along with your message.

    1. Kendra Burrows

      Yes, I love that song, Pat! And I sing it to remind myself that’s how I want to be.

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