There are quite a few sayings that people use and don’t realize come from the Bible: “Drop in the bucket.” – Isaiah “Walk the extra mile.” – Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount “By the skin of your teeth.” – Job “A house divided cannot stand.” – quoted by Abraham Lincoln from Jesus on the Sermon on the Mount “Handwriting on the wall.” – Daniel “Scapegoat.” – Leviticus
I like it when I know where a phrase comes from. It helps me know how the phrase should be used.
I honestly don’t know where the term “Goodness gracious” originated. It had to be before my grandmother’s time because she used it quite a bit. I don’t know when was the last time I used it – if ever. I’m not sure when it would be appropriate. Do I say it when I’m surprised? Should I say it when it’s something good or when it’s something bad? Should I use it as a sigh when I’m just plumb worn out?
This is Holy Week. All week I’m thinking about what it means that Jesus came and died on a cross for us. I remember reading a definition of “goodness.” There are actually two ways to be good.
You can be good by being fair. Think of the teacher who says to her students, “If you hand in your paper and it’s late, then you lose one letter grade. No exceptions.” Assuming she does exactly what she says, then there is goodness there. It’s a hard-edge goodness, but you know exactly what will happen, and it won’t matter who you are or what your reason is.
The other side of goodness is mercy. Think of the teacher that says, “Okay, tell me why this is late?” She takes in all the information and then decides to show mercy instead of justice. It’s not really fair but it’s still good.
When I think about the cross I see the goodness of God – but it’s a full goodness. At the cross the hard edge of justice meets the tender softness of mercy. We call it grace.
So, I think I’ve found a place to use the term “Goodness gracious.” Maybe Holy Week is where it originated. I look at the cross and I say it because of the wonder of it all. I say it because of the pain of it all. I say it because there has never been such a display of goodness and grace than when my Savior bled and died for me.