There have been several times as of late where i've heard that term used (usually as it escapes my lips while describing a book, food, a movie, someone's goodwill, you get the idea), and it's struck in me a great need of dissection of it. After all, Jesus said to call no man good for God alone is good (trying to quote Luke 18 by memory; it's something of that facsimile). So what do we call good? God called creation good, so is the land good? Is light good? Is the separation of darkness and light good? Vegetables, fruit, animals, is everything good?
Everything about creation was good except for one thing; God saw that it was specifically not good for man to be alone (which is a completely different topic altogether in the literal sake, but it fits into this). It wasn't good because the light was good by nature; he did not call the darkness -a thing which cannot be measured- good, but rather the light -which can be measured in lumens- was good. The waters came together and it was good. The birds according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kind, the plants according to their kind; these were good because they were representations of God's creativity. They were good because the waters came together (in fellowship became seas). Plants and animals reproduced their own kind and were, therefore, good.
The Word of God, through which all things were made, is good. Creation was good because it reflected God's personality (Word or, Logos). Adam did not just reflect God's personality; Adam was given the likeness of God, as well as the "breath of life," which also translates into "Spirit of life." He didn't bear a resemblance of God's creative personality, he looked like God, and had God's Spirit in him (i doubt Adam was a physical depiction of God, but he was created in the image of God). But there was no proxy of creation in Adam. He was alone and could not, like everything else in creation (excepting light, which was good to be kept separated from dark), be in like company, procreate or, if you will, wield the creative aspect of the personality of God.
And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good... (Genesis 1:31)Despite the alinearity of Genesis chapters one and two, i believe the term "very good" was reserved for after the creation of Eve because God saw in chapter two that it was not good for man to be alone, and when God saw the entirety of His creation, it was very good.
Then we tried things our way and things became very not good.
Creation stopped reflecting God correctly. The various animals and vegetation according to their kinds continued on, but even the ground was cursed. That makes things pretty well ugly. There was some sort of funhouse mirror effect where creation now looked back at God through a glass darkly. He saw sin whenever He looked at man.
For a long while, things here on earth were graced by moments of "goodness" from God, but we ceased to be good. In fact, we are called evil several times, and rightly so. One of the most intense occurrences being from Genesis 6;
The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” (v. 5-7)That is a very in-depth look into how He felt. Wickedness was great, every intention of the thoughts of our hearts was only evil continually. We perpetuated nothing except evil. Our offspring were a curse, for wickedness consumed them. And though some may say that we're not evil by nature, i want to ask when the last time a child had to be taught to spew wrath, have a fit of anger, be selfish, lie, or any sort of evil thing was? Every inclination is only evil continually.
Nothing of ourselves says charity, not even our giving when it's not directed by God; if we make the choice to give to the poor and the needy, if the choice is not God working in us, we are looking for recognition, either by our fellow man, from God, or our own pride (as said in a prior post, pride and love are often confused for one another).
There is no such thing as a genuinely good deed done by man. There is no wisdom from man, only from God; the wisdom of man, such as Friedrich Nietzsche, leads to atheism, nihilism, universalism, and various other faulted philosophies. Even theology of God, if not wrought out of prayer and meditation and inspired by God, is a crippling theology.
Through Christ, however, there is redemption.
Many people see redemption as being set free from a prison, but the etymological definition is something i find most humbling. Re (back) + emere (buy or take).
Redemption is not just being set free, it's being taken back or bought back.
Through Christ, the Word of God, that through which all things were made and made good, we again have the Spirit of God in us, and through Him the creative purposes of "Let there be" and "He blessed them" return. We are taken back. Through Him, good comes to us (or else we come to good; take your pick) again. Good takes us back when we are redeemed.
Through Christ, we can be many people of one Spirit in true fellowship with God, the original and beautiful intention of creation. For this reason, we are not to forsake meeting with fellow believers. I'm not saying you have to go to a church to be Christian (that's above my authority to choose, praise God), but to see and reflect the creative and harmonious image of the idea of creation it is a necessity. It is not good for man to be alone. When we fellowship and several individuals come together in one heart, one mind, and one Spirit for the sake of glorifying God, it is very good.
To answer that initial question promptly, only God is good. But God takes us back from not good through the blood of Christ.