Many years ago, at a church I attended on a regular basis, I met a very young girl who also frequented the same church with her parents. She could not have been more than seven or eight years old, and I cannot remember how the conversation started, but I have never forgot how it ended, she said to me that God did not love her because she was good, but because He was good.
It has never ceased to amaze me from that day so long ago to this day how many people just cannot understand this statement that came from the mouth of such a very small child. It still astonishes me how many believers, and not the young, but those who have attended church for most of their lives just cannot seem to comprehend this revelation, that He loves us because He is good, not because we are. Granted, they may truly believe the truth that Christ is good, but they seem to want to find a way to show Him that they also are “good” people, that there is some intrinsic value to them that can be accounted to them because of either their good works, good nature, or just because they are plain old good people. The problem though is that they don’t seem to have the same assertion when they are “bad.”
What exactly is a “good” Christian? If we can do nothing of ourselves, (John 15:5) if all our works are as filthy rags, (Isa. 64:4) just where does this goodness that we are speaking of reside? Well of course, the only good that is in us is the Holy Spirit that dwells within us, it is only by the power of Christ within us that anything that we do has eternal value, but so many seem to think that they need to be good enough by some works of their own, that they need to add something into their lives so that the Lord will find favor with them. It should be the desire of our hearts to serve, and this may be the main thing that truly drives the man or woman of God to their knees seeking His face for guidance, to serve well, but to give any thought to any works that we may do that are outside of His will for His favor is not wise.
Too many believe that going to work each day, properly being a steward of their resources, fitting into the society in which they live are works befitting a Christian, but these are the same things that the heathen, the lost do on a daily basis. If we go one step up, that same mentality would be befitting of the one who attends church on a regular basis, does not curse or swear, is always polite and kind, at least in the public’s view. These works would then be seen as one who is in keeping with what could best be termed a “good” religious person, they do what the church they attend believes are the traits that are representative of what a Christian should be. There is a great trap here to fall into though, what if that church is based in prosperity theology, then if your bank account falls below a certain level yours works were apparently not enough to be pleasing to God, what if it is one where the records of the giving of those who attend are made public at the end of each year, and yours was not quite enough to please the others in attendance or the hierarchy of the church itself., what if you just don’t show up enough.
He doesn’t love me because I am good, but because He is good. My lovely wife and I were both married and divorced from our previous spouses before we met. I had prayed for many years for the Lord to bless me with a wife, and without burdening you with the complete story, I gave up, I quit praying and finally just told Him that if you want me to meet someone, you send her right to my door, I’m done asking. Guess what happened, yep, right to the driveway of my house one day. That is the point I am trying to make, if you want to be good, stop trying and start submitting. “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God;” (2nd Cor 3:5) Nothing you can do is going to add one thing to the cross of Christ, He alone is sufficient, He alone is good.
But then what of those who think themselves to be “bad” when they are not doing, as it were, good. These are lost in the confusion of works, a very viable action played upon nearly every Christian at one time or another in their lives. You are not good enough, so you are bad in the eyes of God, and not worthy of His efforts. A sad state of affairs indeed, for it is in this bondage that many fine Christians have found themselves trapped by an ideology that is also enhanced by many religious organizations. Certain works must be performed or your Father in heaven will not bless you, a certain type of life must be lived both within themselves, the church, and in view of the world, all who see you must always see you as good, or you will not be good enough for Christ. These are more than deceived, they are being led in the ways of the adversary, and out of fear and a lack of the knowledge of the truths of Scripture, they are in bondage to masters who desire these types of individuals in their congregations.
“For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God;” (Romans 3:23) No one is good enough, no one ever has been. “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom. 5:8) While you were still bad, Christ died for you. What happens if you do something bad after you have accepted Christ as Savior, after He has become the Lord of your life? “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1st John 1:9) Pretty simple, huh? You can’t be good enough, if you are bad, if you sin, and you ask for forgiveness, repent in your heart from that sin against Him and turn from it, your fellowship with Christ is renewed. How loving is that.
No one is righteous, no not one, (Rom. 3:10) no one has ever had a sufficient amount of good in them and no one ever will, but we all have a lot of bad, or at least the propensity to do bad. Too many that think in that terminology of good and bad that we have been discussing here have the mentality that there is something that they can do to earn favor with the Lord God Almighty, and there is. Accept the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior and submit to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, that’s it, there is nothing else you need to do. All your past sins will be forgiven, any sins that you may commit until the day that He calls you home can be repented of and will be forgiven according to 1st John 1:9, and you will come to the same wisdom that came out of the mouth of that small girl many years ago to me, He loves me because He is good.
Stop trying and ask the Lord to use you for His glory, and everything that He has you to do from then on will be good, because He alone is good.