“I’m a good person”, I’ve heard many people make this claim throughout my lifetime, and I’ve even made it myself on several occasions. But what does “good” really mean? Good, as opposed to what? I’m afraid the intense efforts being made to remove God from our society is beginning to create problems few have imagined or even thought of. With God out of the way we have removed the standard for which everything right and good is measured against. In doing so we have made ourselves susceptible to everything evil and bad. I don’t know if you’ve noticed or not but our modern culture redefines words on a daily basis. The dictionary is constantly enlarging, not just because of new words being created but often because of new definitions of old words being added. It seems that most words today mean a whole lot more than they used to.
The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines “good” in the sense of the statement above as:
2 a (1): virtuous, right, commendable <a good person> <good conduct> (2): kind, benevolent <good intentions>
But what is this definition based on? Who said a virtuous person is good? Who said someone that is kind and benevolent is good? What is being used as the standard of measurement? How can anyone claim to be “good” without understanding what they are measuring their assessment against? I would venture to say that more than half of the people I’ve heard make this statement, including myself, have no idea what they were really saying! We come to the conclusion that we are good based on the image we have of ourselves and the comparisons we’ve made between our successes and others failures. Using this method anyone could be considered good. All one must do is find someone that has failed in ways worse than them and walla! We’re good! Oh how quickly our intelligence will lead us astray when we remove God from our presence.
Some might say if we use God as the standard of right and good then humans have no chance of ever being good and would suffer from low self-esteem. Lord knows we can’t have that! Yet Jesus had this to say about himself in Luke 18:19 (NLT) “Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked him. “Only God is truly good…”. Even Jesus was hesitant to be called good, and that should really get our attention! So was Jesus saying there is no hope of humans ever really being good? Not in my opinion. I believe this scripture is actually pointing us toward the standard of good and the measure we must use when we make our observations. Jesus was pointing us toward God. Jesus was teaching us the importance of keeping God involved in our lives, not obliterated from our lives. Since only God is good it would make sense that He is the measure we must use to make our comparisons. And truly when we look at God and compare ourselves to Him it is indeed easy to see none of us are good, no not one! However, when we look to God as the standard of good we are measured by, it helps us extend to the rest of humanity a lot more grace!
So the next time someone says to you in casual conversation, “I’m a good person” I dare you to ask them how they came to that conclusion. Ask them what their good was measured against. It may well easily open up a door of opportunity to witness to someone about the only One that truly is good!