We are obsessed with being good. This idea of being good shows up all the time in our culture:
“Was he good?” (Asking the babysitter how your child’s behavior was…)
“How’d he do?” He did a good job. (Talking about someone performing in sports, academics, etc.)
When we do a good job, it means that we have lived up to and fulfilled the expectations set before us. Often, these expectations are unwritten and non-formal. Nonetheless, there is a bar to reach or a standard to live up to that is required in order to be good.
Other ways we show this relative goodness in our culture is by saying “he’s a good man,” or “she’s a good woman,” or “they’re a good Christian.”
Good Christian? Relative to who? Relative to what? Often, when saying someone is a good Christian, the thought process becomes one as follows:
“Well, they read their Bible more than most. They pray more than most. They go to church more than most. They dress nicer than most. They talk better than me. The give more money than me. Etc…”
What Defines Goodness?
Who or what is the standard for comparison of so called “good” Christians? Are they good against Jewish regulations? Good against church expectations? Good against cultural norms and national laws? Good against your own personal ideas?
What is the “good Christian” good at?
Remember: For something to be good it has to uphold or surpass a set expectation. A standard, whether spoken or unspoken defines goodness. Laws, rules, regulations, best practices – all of these examples setup something to live up to.
The Problem with Our Goodness
The problem is this: Being good requires no trust, no faith. Being good is based on your own efforts in comparison to an established order or set of rules. Being good requires nothing of anyone else.
The only requirement for being good is a standard that is lower than you. The hard part for us to swallow is that only God is good; none of us can reach His standard and against Him, we can’t compare.
No one does good, not even one.
Psalm 14:3 NLT
The Glory of God’s Goodness
Don’t miss this: There’s no good Christian and bad Christian. There’s only Christian and non-Christian; meaning, you’re either a Christian, a follower of Jesus who has been internally recreated by God, or you are not a follower of the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
The Christian life isn’t dependent upon our goodness and doing the right things, it’s dependent upon the good grace of the Good God. How we live the Christian life is supposed to be the same way we started in the way of Christ: by the goodness of God.
The goodness of God provides for our eternal life with Him. Not our own goodness, but His goodness.
… a person is made right with God by faith in Jesus Christ, not by obeying the law. And we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we might be made right with God because of our faith in Christ, not because we have obeyed the law. For no one will ever be made right with God by obeying the law.
Galatians 2:16 NLT
And in the same way we’ve started a life with Christ, we are to continue living a life with Christ! We aren’t bound to condemnation because we can’t live up to all the rules in the Old Testament. Christ set us free! We were never able to live up to those requirements anyways.
If we were able to meet those requirements, then there would have been no need for Christ to die. But Christ did die so that you and I might live. Real living starts by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ. And in the same way life starts, life should continue – by goodness and grace of God.
How foolish can you be? After starting your new lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?
Galatians 3:3 NLT