Clearing the Heart to See the Truth

Is it enough to be a “Good Person”?

In my experience, some people just don’t want to talk about the big questions – Does God exist? Is Jesus Lord and Savior? What must I do to be saved? – and their dismissal of these kinds of questions almost always appeals to the notion of “good person.” It usually goes something like this:

“If God exists, then all He cares about is whether you’re a good person. Because at the end of the day, all that really matters is being a good person. And I’m a good person, so I don’t really need to worry about anything else.”

What are we supposed to say to this? What do we say when someone pits “being a good person” against the urgency of accepting and spreading the Gospel?

Well, I think there are a couple of things you can say to a “good person” who doesn’t feel the need to worry about God or His Christ or His Church:

First off, ask the person: have you ever really tried being a good person? I mean a really good person? Because if you have, if you’ve really made an effort to be fair and courageous and to think your decisions through carefully, and only to say what should be said, and not to act on cravings or impulses you know are addictive and hurtful, and to really behave as though other people are just as important as you are – if you’ve ever tried to do that, then you know it’s incredibly difficult. It’s hard even to know how to be good, let alone actually being good. In fact, one of the best preparations for understanding who Jesus is and why we need Him as our Savior, is actually, sincerely putting “being a good person” as the number one priority of you life. When you make that your main goal, you’ll really see how desperately you need help–how desperately you need Christ.

Or maybe this “good person” dismissal is trying to say that the only thing that matters is to be an okay person. An average person. Not a psychopath or a sociopath. Maybe what some people mean by “good person” is just a “pretty good person.” But is that really all that matters? Would anybody really say that the main thing in life is to be mediocre? Because if mediocrity is your priority, if that’s what matters to you, then you actually have some very serious problems – you are lost in life, and you badly need to get some direction. You need to ask God for help, and you need to be open to the help He sends you.

Here’s another point: either Christianity is true or it isn’t. If it’s true then the things it says about how to be good are true as well. And if you don’t recognize that then you won’t know as much about how to be good. In other words, if Christianity is true then it matches up with reality – but in that case your ignoring or rejecting Christianity will set you in opposition to reality. And if you’re acting against reality then it doesn’t matter whether you’re a well-wishing sort of person, you’ll actually be doing a lot of harm. So if you really care about being good then you simply can’t ignore the special claims of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

And finally, let’s talk about what God cares about. Remember, according to the Scriptures, God is our Father who loves us dearly. So He wants to be close to us, the way every good Father wants to be close to His children. Do you think it’s “good” to ignore the loving Father who gave you everything? To ignore His Son, to ignore his family? Do you think it would be admirable for a child in a loving family to ignore all his relatives because he was too busy being a “good person”?

Consider this illustration: one thing every schoolteacher notices is the difference in class between the students who have a strong, positive relationship with their parents and the students who don’t. All the students may be “good kids,” but that parental relationship makes a big difference, a difference in the way the students relate to their peers, to authority figures, to assignments. It makes a big difference even to the students’ self-image. Better to be a “good kid” with a positive parental relationship then to be a “good kid” on your own.

So too, it’s better to be a good person with a positive relationship with God the Father, and that’s precisely what Jesus Christ came to offer. You can be a good person and an orphan, but it’s a harder life without that core relationship. You can be a good person and a non-believer, but it’s a harder life without that core relationship.

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7 Responses to “Is it enough to be a “Good Person”?”

  1. aimee says:

    and that, dear profling, is THE greatest tragedy of our times.. Relativism.. IF we all leave what is right up to each one of us.. the train is off the tracks and we have the epidemic proportions of lost souls: suicide, depression, shootings, divorce, you name it.. we’ve got it…. all because people dont want to accept that there are ACTUAL truths and actual good/bad..right/wrong. What is most loving is telling people the TRUTH….

  2. profling says:

    Who are you to judge? Can’t we stop being Pharisees? Look at your own sins.

    • aimee says:

      and that is THE greatest tragedy of our times.. Relativism.. IF we all leave what is right up to each one of us.. the train is off the tracks and we have the epidemic proportions of lost souls: suicide, depression, shootings, divorce, you name it.. we’ve got it…. all because people dont want to accept that there are ACTUAL truths and actual good/bad..right/wrong. What is most loving is telling people the TRUTH….

    • JIM says:

      We are commanded to judge a person’s actions, not his heart…that is for God. This does not mean we should ignore what is obvious. We all have to judge actions of ourselves and others in order to help them and ourselves follow Christ….Hope you will think about this.

  3. Theophilus2 says:

    A question I often pose to non-believers who speak of “good” and “bad” people is “by what standard do you measure?” And if they are the arbiters of good and bad by what authority do they judge and condemn? I can usually get them to agree that certain things are objectively “evil” but, good & bad, for the most part, is up for grabs to them; sentiments subject to popular vote (or not). Prudence…if I give too many examples or point out the flaws in their thinking do I risk alienating them? All I know to do is sew, however imperfectly, to confess to being a sinner dependent on God’s grace and mercy and to pray.

  4. Doug Pruner says:

    The best answer IMO comes from the ultimate “good person”. Mt 7:21 ff.
    “Not everyone saying to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the Kingdom of the heavens, but only the one doing the will of my Father who is in the heavens will. Many will say to me in that day: ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and expel demons in your name, and perform many powerful works in your name?’ And then I will declare to them: ‘I never knew you! Get away from me, you workers of lawlessness!”
    Do we see the key element? ‘Do the will of my Father’. Do we know what that will is? If not, how can we find out?

  5. gsk says:

    A “good person” usually means “not hurting anyone,” and yet the sexual ethics of the day means that s/he will have probably have no problem with cohabitation, contraception, or abortion. It takes a remarkably sophisticated agnostic to figure out how those things are harmful to people and corrosive to society–and yet even then his godless creed would inhibit him from “sharing the news.”

    The bar is usually pretty low for “just being good,” and without grace, it’s so hard to lift it higher. Thanks for some interesting thoughts.

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