Better Than I Deserve

When I was a very young believer in the early 1970's, I attended a very strong and vibrant Bible church in Arlington, Virginia. There was a man there whom I saw virtually every Sunday. I remember one of the first times I met him, I asked him the standard  hello question: "How're you doing?" But to my surprise, he failed to give me the standard reply of "fine" or "good." Instead, he simply said: "Better than I deserve."
His answer caught me off-guard. But the more I thought about it as the day went on, the more I realized what an incredibly appropriate reply. "Better than I deserve." Indeed, anyone who really understands the teaching of the Bible should resonate with his statement. With God being as utterly holy as the Bible says He is--and with us being as utterly sinful as the Bible says we are--any good things with which God has blessed us far exceed what we deserve!

In fact, the Bible actually declares that GOODNESS is one of God's essential attributes.
Psalm 149:9 says, "The Lord is good to all and His tender mercies are over all His works."

Psalm 52:1 says, "The goodness of God endures continually."

And again in Psalm 34:8 "O taste and see that the Lord is good."
It's like Chris Tomlin sings: "You're a good, good Father; That's who You are."

Now, an "attribute" is not something God DOES--it's something that God IS. This is a most important distinction. If goodness were something God DOES, then at any moment God could decide not to do it. But if goodness is something that God IS, then He cannot be anything but this way lest He cease to be God. And this is why Psalm 23:6 says "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life."
The SO WHAT? of all of this is that we will always find God's goodness and mercy embedded in everything that happens in our lives. No matter how bad the tragedy or how deep the loss--no matter how acute the pain or how unhappy the situation--God's goodness/mercy is always there if we will simply look for it. Always!

The car accident could've been worse. At least we have the money to pay for the repair. At least there's a medicine to treat the infection.  At least my child got sick while I wasn't out of town. At least the Lord took her home quickly. You get the idea: dig deeply enough into any circumstance, and we will always find God's goodness and mercy there. And yes, it's true: sometimes His mercy/goodness is so hidden that at first we can't see it. But this is where we must walk by faith and trust God and wait for His goodness/mercy to rise to the top like cream always does. And rest assured, it always  does and it always will.

As I look back over my almost 50 years of walking with the Lord Jesus, I am constantly humbled by the goodness that He has showered on me and my family. As time goes by, and as the Holy Spirit uses the Word of God and His own personal ministry to my heart to reveal to me how corrupt my fleshly nature really is, I become more and more overwhelmed by God's kindnesses to me. And I try to be like the one leper (Luke 17) who came back to say "thank you." But how can we ever thank God sufficiently for something so magnanimous and undeserved?

So, this Thanksgiving, may I suggest, when someone asks you "how are you doing?", that you give them the correct and accurate and biblical response: "Better than I deserve!", thereby pointing  them to the Lord Jesus instead of yourself--so that He can receive the credit and the spotlight that He so deserves.
"And  as Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. However, Jesus did not permit him, but said to him, 'Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.'" Mark 5:18-20

Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours!