I’M REALLY NOT THAT GOOD

Here’s an inspiring one from Lee.  Hope you enjoy it, and at the same time, take a good look at yourself….  NONE of us are good. -anita

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As so often happens when I read Scripture (or even commentaries on Scripture) I am led into thoughts about how that Scripture applies to me. That’s a good thing, of course, because in untold ways, ALL of Scripture applies to me, to teach me and correct me and train me in righteousness [1 Tim 3:16].

 

As I read this morning, I came across a sentence in a commentary that caused me to pause and reflect. I read in Romans 3:9-11 that there is none righteous, no, not one, a passage that I’m very familiar with. But then the commentary put Eccl 7:20 before my eyes: “Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and never sins.” The article then put the show-stopper on the topic: “It is easy to look at the wickedness in the world and believe that since we are comparatively more righteous, God approves of us based on our works.”

 

I have to admit, I sometimes feel pretty good about myself in the context of my having done something nice, helpful, positive for someone else. I might even think to myself: “Thank you, Lord, for allowing me to do something which I believe will please You.” And then, in my boundless pride, I might look around and see someone doing something unlawful or demeaning to someone and think to myself: “I’m glad that’s not me!” The latter translated in my unique lexicon means: “Lord, aren’t I good, and better than that person over there.” These thoughts then led me to think of the passage in Luke, 18:10-14, where the Pharisee prays that he’s glad he’s not like “the other people.” The Pharisee then specifically references the tax-gatherer standing nearby, one of those “other people.” The tax-gatherer, highly despised in this Jewish culture, was even “unwilling to lift his eyes to heaven,” but rather beat his breast and asked God for mercy on him, a sinner. At that point, I quickly was caught up short; whoa, wait a minute, that’s me, I’m the Pharisee!

 

After having been knocked soundly off my high horse, I came around to the bitter truth: I’m really not all that good, and, in fact, not good most of the time. Any acts of love I conduct which might be construed as “good” would likely be due to God working through me. After all, God is the source of love and is also the implementer of changed hearts. It is true that I want to do things to please God. It’s my way of trying to say “thanks” to God for all the goodness He directs toward me. But my innate nature is to sin, to judge, to find fault, to exhibit pride, and even to forgive myself quite readily for all those things, time after time. So, I don’t want to kid myself… I’m really not “good.” Jesus Himself said in Mark 10:18b “No one is good except God alone.” In a web-based commentary (www.Gotquestions.org) on this passage between Jesus and the rich young ruler, the writer notes: “Jesus’ fundamental lesson here is that goodness flows not from a man’s deeds, but rather from God Himself.” God is the initiator of all that is “good.” To the degree we put God first, we are letting God use us, work through us. But make no mistake, there’s even a cliff edge here, also. We need to be careful that we do good to honor God and let Him work His goodness through us, and not do good to “make points” with God so He will love us more or to help ensure our salvation. That takes us right back to a works-based religion and that’s not Christianity. As has been said on this blog before, Jesus’ perfect work on the cross did all that was necessary to buy us salvation. Our works will never begin to equal that one, perfect work of Christ.

Lee Pierce

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