The ‘good person’ trip-up: Why being good is not good enough…

The “good person trip-up”…
Many people think that if they are good (a good citizen; a good parent; an all-around good person), that being good is good enough. The problem is that this mentality consists of our own standard and perspective that we have invented in our own minds. For example, we are all “good” compared to a terrorist. The standard people use is the terrorist. We are all “good” compared to the bad standard we have set up in our intellect (without even realizing it). Let’s face it: most of us look around at other people and don’t think about God.  It is with love that I say there are very large problems with this. When we compare ourselves to ourselves, it is not wise: “For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise” 2 Cor. 10:12. When humans compare themselves to other humans, it is a false standard instead of God’s true standard.  Essentially, when we do this, we are basically (even unknowingly) stating that our standard is right/true and God’s is wrong/false.  We have a choice – we can use our own standard or God’s.  The choice is ours; He allows us free will to choose.
“There is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the LORD.” Proverbs 21:30.
Which standard are you using?  There comes a point in each person’s life to choose which standard to live by; they are contradictory standards.  One is true; one is false.  Both can’t be true.  It really comes down to this: Who is wiser?  God or me?  Most people won’t listen to Him, He is used to it:
“But my people would not hearken to my voice; and Israel would have none of me.” Psalm 81:11
“Enter in at the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leads to destruction, and many there be who go in there, because narrow is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leads unto life, and few there be that find it.Matthew 7:13,14
 God’s plan for our lives (as opposed to our own plan), is that we do not use our own standard to make ourselves feel “good” because this leads to destruction, but rather, to use HIS standard alone, which leads to life.  This is a narrow path, and one that most people will not choose because it feels better (temporarily) to deceive ourselves with our own standard.  It is HIS standard that we will be judged by, not our own. It’s like a class full of students – if my friend gets an F, but I get a D, I am pretty good! I am feeling really good about myself when I am looking at my friend, but I have forgotten that the teacher holds the standard and that I am getting graded by the teacher, not the student! This is how it is with God. He is the grader, and He is the judge.  Our friend is not our savior.  He is good, 100% in His awesomeness and infinite in wisdom.  If I get a C, and compare that to God’s standard, I’m really not that good at all.  It’s about our perspective; the way we have grown up, what our parents have taught us, etc.
 This presents a problem. This means that all of us are pretty much not “good” when compared to HIS standard. Unless, of course, you are perfect.  If you are perfect, than this article is not for you.  We are all in the same boat, we are all dirty dishes in the sink; we are all flawed; we have all sinned and are imperfect when compared to HIS standard.  There is not one person on this earth who has not thought a wrong thought or done a wrong deed:
“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”
 1 John 1:8
 We don’t need to teach a child to be bad, to fight, etc., but we all need to teach our children’s hearts to be good and to do the right thing. We are all born wretched in our hearts, each of us:
“But we are all like an unclean thing,
And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags;
We all fade as a leaf,
And our iniquities, like the wind,
Have taken us away.” Isaiah 64:6
“For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies…” Matthew 15:19
“There is none righteous, no, not one;
There is none who understands;
There is none who seeks after God.
They have all turned aside;
They have together become unprofitable;
There is none who does good, no, not one.” Romans 3:10-12
The Apostle Paul wrote to the Roman church, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”.  If this apostle, who we see on stain glass windows in churches, admitted his wretchedness, and his need for a savior, how do we claim to be good?
Even the best things we do, God is not impressed with; we cannot make our way into His arms and Kingdom based on our own merit and good deeds. He’s not impressed; He just isn’t. The best things we do are often still like filthy rags.  The way to God is not through being good, getting baptized or going to church.  It’s also not through self-help gurus like Joel Osteen or Wayne Dyer.  It’s not through giving money to the church, or being one with the universe.  It is not about what we do to earn our salvation, it’s about what He does in and through us. It’s HIS work (a supernatural act of His grace and mercy), not ours.
Jesus said that unless a person becomes truly born again, they “cannot” enter into HIs Kingdom:
“Jesus answered and said unto him, ‘Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.'” John 3:3
The only way to heaven is to become born-again (according to Christ).  It’s His standard, not ours.  He must remake us from the inside out, starting at our hearts. It is a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit to remake a person.  This is why it is called being “born again” or “born again of the Spirit”.
“A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26
Once He re-makes us, and gives us a new heart, like a tree, it grows and produces good fruit, good deeds, etc.  Goodness is simply a bi-product to salvation, not a means of earning our way. This is also what sets Christianity apart from other religions.  Many religions teach that we must do things to earn God’s approval/salvation and that He is impressed with us.  Christianity says the only way to the Father is through the Son, and good deeds (and a holy and changed life) follow as a natural result like fruit on a tree:
“Jesus said unto him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes unto the Father, but by me.'” John 14:6
“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
Who gave himself a ransom for all, this to be a testimony at the proper time.” 1 Timothy 2
“God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.  Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.  For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”  Ephesians 2:8,9 nlv
It is God who cleanses us (through the shed blood of Jesus on the cross) and forgives us/wipes us clean.  We all fall short of the glory of God, and can be justified freely by His grace.  What standard are you using?  I think a lot of people think that their own standard will be acceptable to God…when it will not.  God is wiser than us.  The way to God is through His Son’s atoning death on the cross and becoming born again. Jesus is the only way; not being a good person when compared to our neighbor.

Sort Your Mail

Do you ever feel bombarded with mail?  Whether it be paper or electronic, there is a lot to sift through.  It crossed my mind the other day that life is much like sorting the mail.  When we get the mail, there is a huge stack.  Much of it is junk.  The junk mail contains lies for the most part – “if you buy this, you will be happy”.  So many advertisements.  The rest is valuable and worth keeping.  Those are the bills and the truthful items.  It is the truth that if we don’t pay our power bill, we will not have power!  Better not discard that one.  If we lie to ourselves, we may say that the junk mail is good and worthy of keeping.  In reality, so much of the mail we get just sucks our energy.  It is unneeded and wasteful.  That’s why it’s called junk mail.  If this stuff is not dealt with right away, it can pile up and become very burdensome.  It occurred to me that life is much like going through mail.  Every day, new things come our way.  New people and new experiences.  New situations and new demands.  If we don’t sort through the junk mail, it piles up and overcrowds all the good mail to the point where we cannot even see the good mail anymore!  Let’s face it: God sends things our way; so does the devil.  Both God and the devil send things (situations, circumstances, people, etc.) into our lives.  God sends truth.  The devil sends lies.  Is there anything in your life that you think you could throw away or donate?  Physically and spiritually speaking, is there anything that weighs you down that you have kept unknowingly that prevents you from running a good race?  Going through our physical possessions and minimizing can certainly be freeing.  I just went through our entire house and was honest with myself about what we truly needed to keep.  If it did not bring me joy, I threw it away or donated it.  Going through emails and de-cluttering our computers can also be freeing.  Same with our inner lives.  Is there anything that is toxic that you would be better without?  Maybe you have kept some junk mail not realizing it was junk?  Sometimes too much clutter and too much toxicity can effect our health and even start to poison what is good in our lives.  What is weighing you down?  Ask God to show you if there are any changes you could make to make your life more free, light and joyful.  God wants us to walk in freedom and joy.  Sometimes an inventory is needed of our priorities. Galatians 6:2 says we as Christians are to carry each others’ burdens and thus we will be fulfilling the law of Christ, and that is a noble thing.  Christians are responsible to love others and carry each others burdens.  We must make sure that the burdens (baggage, excess mail) we are carrying around with us day-to-day are truly Godly burdens that God has willed us to bear.  Sometimes, we think God has planned we carried certain burdens when He actually has wanted us to let go of such burdens because they are out of our control or sphere of responsibility.  Such burdens can actually do us harm in our race with Him.  Some points to think about.