It’s easy to be preoccupied with the details of life. There’s always something more it seems we must do. Our work, our responsibilities, the investments of our time and energies can weigh on us and keep us from living life the way God intended. It’s in these moments of life we appreciate the words from a loved one or friend who reminds us to “stop and smell the roses.” Few things in life appeal to our senses of smell and sight as does the rose.
The beauty of life reflects the goodness of God. Indeed, the Greek New Testament word for good (kalos) is sometimes rendered as beautiful. Three days before the crucifixion a woman anointed Jesus’ head with alabaster, a very costly perfume. When the disciples questioned this act, Jesus replied, “She has done a beautiful thing to me” (Matt. 26:10, NIV). It was a tradition to anoint someone’s head before their burial. Jesus knew the intent of the woman’s heart. He defended her actions and lauded her good deeds: “Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her” (Matt. 26:13, NIV).
As humans we are capable of beautiful acts that reflect the heart of God. These acts in themselves are good. We also bear the mark of our Creator. We are made in His image (Gen. 1:26). Yet the Bible also tells us we have fallen short of God’s glory (Rom. 3:23). Though made in perfection, we have fallen from that perfection and lived according to our own ways.
God on the other hand is perfect, beautiful, and complete in every way. While as humans we are capable of doing good, God always does good. It is part of his very nature. This is what it means to call God omnibenevolent—from the Latin omni (all) and the English benevolent (synonymous with good, compassionate, and generous). This attribute of God means He is perfectly good in all He does: “The Lord is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works” (Psalms 145:17, ESV).
All creation testifies to God’s goodness. The earth, the skies, the oceans, the trees and rolling mountains, the sun, moon, and stars, all speak of the beauty and perfection of God. In the Genesis account we read how after each day of creation God looked on His works and called them good. After He created man, the crown jewel of His masterpiece: “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day” (Gen. 1:31, ESV).
All that God does is good and all of creation bears witness to His exceptional creative prowess. We, bearing His image, above all. Indeed, God’s works are “very good.” No other being is like God. He alone is the constant source of beauty, compassion, and love: “Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow” (James 1:17, NLT). He alone is the source of life and sustenance for all things, proving Himself as steadfast and true through the seasons of life:
“Yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness” (Acts 14:17, ESV).
The hymn Great is thy Faithfulness, penned by Thomas Chisholm, communicates the unwavering, unerring kindness of the omnibenevolent God:
“Great is Thy faithfulness, oh God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not;
As Thou hast been, Thou forever wilt be.”
“Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!”
“Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon, and stars in their courses above
Join with all nature in manifold witness
to Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.”
We worship a mighty, masterful God, who reveals Himself through His steadfast love and compassion. He has showered our lives with everyday reminders of His goodness. He has given us full access to His goodness and beauty, and the preeminent example of the benevolent life, in the person and work of Jesus Christ who, “‘himself bore our sins’ in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; ‘by his wounds you have been healed’” (1 Peter 2:24, NIV). We have been made new in Christ so that we might share with the world His beauty and perfection through the Spirit He’s freely bestowed on us.
Even in the work of creation, God has given us an example that we might follow. We know that after He created humankind, He stopped and beheld the wondrous work of His hands. On the seventh day He rested, God paused to “smell the roses.” After the work and business of creation, God took the time He pleased to enjoy the works of His hands. Likewise, we’re reminded to take a step back from it all. When the concerns of life cloud your thoughts and hem you in, stop to gaze only on the beauty of God’s creation, His wondrous acts and wondrous love shed abroad for the world in Christ. In that moment, transfixed on God’s beauty, wonder, and awe, you will find the peace and refreshment of the omnibenevolent God.
Copyright © 2016 Paul J. Palma. Used by permission.