Is a technology flaw an insidious tool or a powerful warning?
Auto-correct 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.
Good bless you.
May Good be with you. [Star Wars, anyone?]
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 auto-corrects 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 sizable 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.
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.
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)
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 not always nice. (For instance, 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.” To often this 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 auto-correct with intention.
Regardless, it’s a part of this world, a daily reminder that we’re in enemy 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 auto-correct 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.