Blog, Living in the Abundance of Christ

Why Do You Call Me Good?

I like talking about 2 things: Jesus and food.

Most people are more comfortable talking about food, than talking about Jesus. Go figure.

I also like writing about Jesus and the Bible. And (as I’ve recently discovered) don’t care to write much about food and nutrition; it seems clinical to me.  But, like I said, I can talk about it, at length.

If you catch me at the right time and place, we might have a great conversation. You might leave that conversation feeling good. Maybe good about yourself, maybe good about me. More often times than not, though, I am not very talkative. This includes large crowds (more than 3 people), or subject matter that does not interest me. You might say something to me, and I might respond in an odd or blunt way. You might leave that conversation feeling bad. Maybe bad about yourself, or bad about me, thinking I was rude.

Does the context of our meeting change the type of person I am? No. I am the same person, reacting differently, based on circumstances.

My point (and I do have one).We are quick to label people, good or bad, based on our interactions with them.

Now, you may be thinking: “Well, some people do very bad, obviously bad things, while other people do very good, obviously good things.”

This is true, from our perspective, and some people do act better than others. I won’t get into all the things that can make people commit vile and evil acts against others -which is ultimately against God (Psalm 51:4); we know it’s sin. We know it is wrong and even unbelievers will agree that certain behaviors and actions are evil.

No One Is Righteous

“What shall we conclude then? Do we have any advantage? Not at all! For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin. As it is written:

There is no one righteous, not even one;
    there is no one who understands;
    there is no one who seeks God.
All have turned away,
    they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good,
    not even one.”
“Their throats are open graves;
    their tongues practice deceit.”
“The poison of vipers is on their lips.”
   “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”
“Their feet are swift to shed blood;
    ruin and misery mark their ways,
 and the way of peace they do not know.”
     “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.” Romans 3:9-20

What makes a person good?

The world has its own definition of what “good” is. A kind of good based on feelings. A kind of good based on appearances. Even we, as Christians, might see people who have no part in Christ, and think of them as a “good” person. They may be always kind, and generous, and we might feel that they are not deserving of God’s judgement. It doesn’t seem fair to us. Whenever I’m tempted to think this, that God is not being fair, I always (as quickly as possible) remind myself, God is the standard of fairness and justice. If it were not for him and his Word, I wouldn’t know what fair was. His thoughts and ways are not like mine, his thoughts and ways are higher than mine (Isaiah 55:8-9).

“And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.” Mark 10:18

Jesus says only God is good, and yet all of us know people who are seemingly good, at least, better than others. This is where we are comparing ourselves to ourselves.

“Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.” 2 Corinthians 10:12

We don’t see ourselves accurately. We like to compare ourselves to others, because it makes us feel better. But “others” are not our standard, Christ is. We look at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7).

“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.” Romans 12:3

So, we know that we are not good, and that only God is good. But, the Bible also tells us that goodness is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), and on multiple occasions the Bible says to do good, be good, and calls certain people good:

  • “for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord.” Acts 11:24
  • “His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’” Matthew 25:23
  • “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.” Matthew 12:35

What makes a person good is Christ in us. We are called to goodness, but our only ability to fulfill this calling is through Christ. We do not have the capacity to be truly good apart from him. Maybe by the worlds standards, but not by God’s standards.

“Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit.” Matthew 12:33

When you abide in Jesus you will bear much fruit, including goodness, apart from him you can do nothing. (John 15:5)

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