“Thus Hezekiah did throughout all Judah, and he did what was good and right and true before the Lord his God” (2 Chronicles 31:20).
TO LIVE LIFE AT ITS BEST, WE MUST LEARN TO COMBINE THREE THINGS: WHAT IS GOOD, WHAT IS RIGHT, AND WHAT IS TRUE. Learning to recognize these things is no small challenge, and learning to balance them harmoniously is an even greater challenge.
Good. The Hebrew word translated “good” in this text is the same as in Genesis 1:4: “And God saw the light, that it was good.” It is a word the Hebrews used to describe things that are beautiful, fair, and pleasant. In this sense, our conduct is “good” when it is characterized by grace and gladness and good cheer. The warmth of such goodness attracts us very naturally. We welcome the joy and the merriment that we associate with the good.
Right. By their word for “right,” the Hebrews referred to justice, equity, and uprightness — qualities that are no less important than goodness. If we are to be all that God desires us to be, we must learn to balance the beauty of goodness with the rectitude of justice, striving to emulate God’s own character in this respect (Romans 11:22). Jean-Jacques Rousseau observed, “We always love what is good or what we think is good; it is in our judgment of what is good that we can make mistakes.” Our fondness for what is good must be informed by a commitment to what is right. If it is not, then our goodness will be little more than selfishness.
True. The Hebrew word emeth denoted certainty, trustworthiness, and faithfulness. It had to do with surety and stability, and it referred especially to the bedrock dependability of God’s word. To be a person of truth was, in ancient Israel, to be a devout, religious person, living according to the sure truth that had been revealed to the nation by God. David prayed, “Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; on You I wait all the day” (Psalm 25:5). In the long run, it is this truth that must give stability to our concepts of both goodness and justice. In fact, our attempts to do what is good and right can do great harm if they are not controlled by a prior devotion to truth. We never do ourselves, or others, a bigger favor than when we improve our understanding by submitting it to the authority of truth.
“Truth has no special time of its own. Its hour is now — always” (Albert Schweitzer).