This morning, as I sat at coffee waiting for one of our men I couldn’t help overhearing (yes I listened in) a man at the next table say to his breakfast partner, “I’m a good person….”
There was more to his statement, but this one sentence caught my imagination. I’m sure this guy really is a nice person, trying to be good, but I wondered and wished I could ask him, so what does it mean to you to be a good person and why does it matter? What is the purpose of being good? Why did he need to say that to his friend this morning?
I wonder about these things because his statement made me immediately think about a young man who came to Jesus and basically said the same thing, “I’m a good person, what else do I need?” Jesus’ response probably stunned him when he replied, “No one is good but God alone.” From that came an encounter that left this young man depressed.
Why do we want to be good? What’s is our purpose in “being good?” Who are we trying to impress? Are we just trying to be accepted by others or do we think there is some merit in our goodness? I wonder how we measure our goodness. Compared to Hitler we are all pretty good! What or who was my breakfast friend comparing his goodness to? What was his measuring stick? Why does he want to be good?
I wonder about these things because I really have no illusions of being a good person. It’s funny that a pastor like me would say such a thing, but it comes from a perspective of really knowing my own heart and knowing my potential for evil. There is nothing I couldn’t do under the right circumstances. I have no illusions of goodness as far as I’m concerned. I know my heart and nothing good resides there so I have to find my acceptance somewhere else. I have to find it in someone else. That’s the very reason I’m a Christian! Knowing that I’m not good and can’t be good I am depending on someone else to be good for me, to accomplish what I can’t.
You will never hear me saying, “I’m a good person.” I’m not! Only in Jesus Christ do I find a goodness that puts me right with God. On my own I have no inherent goodness to offer to God. I’m so glad Jesus made my acceptance before God possible because in me is no good thing! So, from a brief comment this morning at a table near mine, I’m most grateful for what Jesus has done for me to make me acceptable to God. Praise be to God for his indescribable gift!
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