Man’s “Goodness” vs. God’s Goodness (Luke 18:1-8)

Published on October 16th, 2019

Though Scripture acknowledges that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and that there is no one who does good, not even one, and that without faith it is impossible to please God, yet as the Lord Jesus speaks of prayer He verifies that among fallen mankind a kind of “goodness” can be observed.  Though this kind of “goodness” in fallen man is to be found, yet such goodness is tainted with sinful motives, tainted with selfish desires.  Such apparent goodness must yet be purged of sin in the eyes of the Holy God.

At times Jesus would then use this warped “goodness” in the fallen world as a contrast with God’s wondrous and loving goodness—a goodness uniquely found in the giving of His Son into death for mankind’s salvation.

Our text speaks of an unrighteous judge who neither feared God nor respected man. This description indicates an outward evil of this judge being expressed because of the inner evil of his heart. Nonetheless this judge (though it was because of totally wrong motives) did good to the widow who was petitioning him. If the unrighteous judge did something good, how much more will the righteous God hear and lovingly answer the prayers of His people—for Jesus’ sake—giving them good things with the ultimate good timing that only God possesses?

As another example of this tainted goodness used by the Lord to illustrate something about approaching God in prayer, consider what Jesus says about those who come to God—asking, seeking and knocking at the ear of God.  The Lord explains, “If you then, being evil, now how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him.” (Lu. 11:13).   Observe the commentary on the condition of man:  “…you, being evil.”  Yet even though people are evil, they still know how to give good gifts to their children.  Once again the giving of such good gifts by evil people is a goodness warped by sin, yet there is still a goodness—albeit tainted—that can be recognized among fallen mankind.

The contrast again is clear: If God, who is not tainted by sin, is approached by His children, won’t He give what is good—ultimately the Holy Spirit—to those children who ask?

Why would God hear the requests of sinful people who live in a sinful world?  Who are His children that He should listen to them? It is only because there is one Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus.  Our approach to our Father in prayer can only happen because God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself, not counting their trespasses against them.  Indeed, whatever we ask the Father in Jesus name (that is, consistent with who He is and what He is about), the Father will give it to us.  Yes, the Righteous Judge, the good Father who loves His children infinitely more than any earthly Father—this One will always hear us for Christ’s sake.