Truth, beauty, and goodness – how ought we to think of and relate to them, and can we embody them?
Perhaps not perfectly, no. But it’s a noble endeavor to study, ponder, and pursue these three, and to celebrate when we meet all three in ourselves and the people, places, and things we encounter.
Truth and beauty and goodness are close cousins, after all. What is good must be in alignment with the truth and is beautiful. Similarly, at least some hint of truth and goodness is inherent to those people, places, and things which we call objectively beautiful. Yet all three are distinct and separate, however closely related.
“The Earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof.”
Whatever He entrusts to us, contentment is found in remembering that everything is made by God and still belongs to Him and is for Him. Everything that is was made by Him, and nothing would exist apart from Him.
This is why one of the Ten Commandments is to not covet anything that belongs to our neighbor. God gave our neighbor what he has, and otherwise Sovereignly ordained that he should have those things.
This is also why grumbling and murmuring are serious sins against our Maker. In essence, to grumble and complain with how much or little we have of this or that is to find fault with God, as if He made a mistake or was unjust. Did He make a mistake? Such would be entirely contrary to His nature.
God is the only completely successful perfectionist who has ever existed, or who ever really, truly will exist.
But humanly speaking, consider the case of Joseph and his brothers. The coat of many colors their father had given made his brothers hate him. But what did they do with it when they took it from him? They tore it to pieces. They smeared it with blood. In an effort to make their story of why Joseph wouldn’t be around anymore stick, they destroyed that symbol which more than anything else represented to them what he had that they didn’t.
Set aside for a moment questions of whether Jacob’s obvious favoritism contributed to this. The actions of Joseph’s brothers against him were not good, nor were they justified. The once beautiful coat was no longer beautiful when it was presented to Jacob, and I reckon that was half the point. So also, the story told about a wild animal tearing Joseph to pieces was not true!
Nevertheless, God was still good – no more or less than if Joseph’s brothers had conducted themselves with perfect innocence. There still was the truth of the Lord’s purpose. And how the whole business worked out to the saving from famine of all of Joseph’s family and many more besides, plus the reconciliation of a family torn apart by bitterness and jealousy – that was beautiful indeed in the end. We cannot dispute that, or else we contend with God Himself.
So also in our circumstances: they may not always be pretty, but what God is doing in them will always in the end be true and beautiful and good.
We should remember that fact, and meditate on it in the midst of a world which will continue on in being very much broken until Christ returns and remakes it afresh. In so remembering and meditating, we will find both wisdom and righteousness, and a peace that surpasses all understanding.
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