I’m a good person. Not the best, but better than average.
If you ask my dad, he’ll tell you I was a good kid. I ate my food, brushed my teeth, and went to bed without griping. I had some fights with my little brother, but nothing major. And I’d never hurt my little sister in a million years.
As far as school was concerned, I got up on time, made the bus, did all my homework, got good grades, won some awards, excelled at sports, and never got into fights.
As a teen, I was morose but not rebellious. I’ve never tried drugs. I only got somewhat drunk once, and that was with my father and grandfather when we tried Poppy’s homemade blueberry wine.
I’ve never committed a crime. I’ve never even had a speeding ticket. As far as the law is concerned, I’m “blameless.”
I’ve always been a hardworking and dependable employee. I’ll outwork and outproduce just about anyone.
I’ve given away more money to the poor than I remember. During college, I paid for one girl’s methadone treatment and bought groceries for a group of street kids every other week. I was living off of Ramen and falafel but buying them steak.
Now that I’m married, I love my wife and have never cheated on her or even come close.
I love my kids, and while I’m not always the most patient dad, I try to give them a better standard of living than I had. I read to them, draw with them, hike with them, talk to them about God, and drive them to ballet, Aikido, soccer, and baseball.
I buy Christmas presents for the local children’s home (they ask for batteries).
I recycle, pick up worms off the sidewalk, and take in stray dogs to reunite them with their owners.
When people fight, feud, and divide, I try to be a peacemaker and a bridge builder. I don’t always succeed, and maybe I err on the side of preferring peace, but I try.
By society’s standards, I’m a good person.
But I tell you this—if I died without believing in Jesus, I’d be one of the best people who ever went to hell.
I’m a good person, but I’m not perfect.
I’m a sinner.
All that merely human righteousness is just a hill of beans compared to God’s holiness. Scratch the surface of my life, and you’ll find a wicked heart. If I stood before God and He judged me for everything I’ve ever thought, said, or did (cf. Rom 2:5-8), He’d not only conclude that I wasn’t good enough to get into the kingdom of heaven, but He’d find I deserve wrath. Why? Because just as it takes only takes one felony to be a felon, it only takes one sin to be a sinner: “For whoever keeps the entire law, and yet stumbles at one point, is guilty of breaking it all” (James 2:10). Even though I’m a good person by society’s standards, I’ve stumbled plenty. As James says, “we all stumble in many ways” (James 3:2). I’ve sinned a million times over. Society might not have noticed, but God does.
I need forgiveness. Righteousness. Everlasting life. I haven’t—and I couldn’t—ever earn those by being a good person, no matter how hard I might try. That’s why I need Jesus. That’s why everyone needs Him.
God knew that no one could save themselves, so He made a way through His Son, Jesus, the Savior of the world (John 3:17; 4:42; 1 John 4:14).
The Son of God came to save us from our sins, to clothe us with His righteousness, and to give us everlasting life. Jesus made that possible by living a perfect life, fulfilling the law for you, dying on the cross as a sacrifice for your sins, and rising again from the dead. Jesus did all that so He could give you salvation as a gift (Eph 2:8-9). Instead of earning it, you receive it through faith in Him.
I’m a good person. You might be, too. But from one good person to another, your only hope of salvation is through God’s grace in Christ.
Send your questions or comments to Shawn.