You know how you hear something so many times it just doesn’t register anymore? Like the one car that still has an alarm in the entire parking lot of your apartment complex that seems to go off at all hours of the night, that alarm that would drive you up a wall the first few days but then just faded into the background somewhere?
I am the same way with commonly overused phraseology. It just doesn’t register anymore until I hear it one time too many and I have to bite my tongue in order to keep from saying something. There is no camel; there is no straw; just a very intense desire to shake the person until they snap back into reality.
My moment came, oddly enough as I was standing in line at the grocery store. Two ladies whom I assumed were friends were ahead of me, and as they were talking one said to the other, ‘but I’m a good person, I really am. Why can’t he see that?’
It was all I could do to keep myself from blurting out, ‘by whose standard? By whose standard are you a good person?’
If an individual establishes the standard of their own morality, then in their own eyes they are good people. It would be like me going into a class of second graders, and establishing my level of intelligence compared to theirs. I would have every right to say I was a genius wouldn’t I? But put me in a room with Nobel laureates, and the prism through which I viewed my intelligence level suddenly shifts. I’m no longer the smartest guy in the room, but rather the dumbest guy in the room.
There is a danger in establishing our own standard of morality, just as there is a danger in establishing our own standard of faith. It is easy to possess a faith for which we establish the standards. If we establish the standards of our faith, we look at ourselves and say, ‘I am so good, I am so righteous, I have so much faith’, just as by her own estimation the lady in the grocery store believed herself to be a good person.
However, when God establishes the standard of our morality, and the standard of our faith, the story is very different indeed. By viewing ourselves through the prism of how God views us, we soon discover that we need grace, we need forgiveness, we need to be reconciled unto God, because our own goodness, our own so called merits, our own wisdom, is nothing more than filthy rags in the sight of God.
Isaiah 64:6, “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.”
Sure compared to some infamous criminal the lady might have been a good person indeed, however the standard is not my neighbor, my father, my sister or my brother, or the guy on the news who got arrested for kicking kittens, the standard that I must hold myself to is God’s standard. In and of ourselves we cannot hope to reach the standard that God set forth, in and of ourselves, we will continually fall short. I guess the one point I am trying to make today, is that Jesus is the good in us, not some of the good, but all of the good in us.
I have met some unfortunate souls in recent months that have fallen into the trap of reveling in their own self righteousness. Whether it’s because they hold to a certain ceremony, or they practice a certain tradition, there is this sense that they are righteous because of these practices. Please understand for the love of your soul, there is nothing on this earth, above the earth, or below the earth that can wash and make you clean, that can reconcile you unto God, that can redeem your life from destruction, other than the blood that Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God shed upon the cross.
Philippians 3:8-9, “But indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith.”
When we attain the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus as Paul did, we come to the realization that our righteousness, can never compare to the righteousness that comes through faith in Christ, that righteousness which comes from God.
Our purpose on this earth is not to be able to look in a mirror and think to ourselves how good we are, or compare ourselves to others and their shortcomings thereby elevating our own self worth, but to attain the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus. Once attained, we begin to see the worthlessness of not only everything that the world holds in high esteem, but also the worthlessness of our own self righteousness.
If there is any nobility in me, I assure you it is Jesus. If there is any nobility in you, it is the selfsame Christ. To think ourselves good people, to think ourselves better than, is to fall into a snare of the enemy wherein we start to believe our own hearts when they tell us that being good is good enough.
‘Why would you need Jesus? You know you’re a good person, and you try to live a good life, and you return your movies on time, always tip the mailman on Christmas, and you even recycle. That’s a definition of a good person if ever I heard one!’
Yes, by the world’s standard, by your standard, by your grandmother’s standard that always pinches your cheek and pats you on the hand and tells you what a good boy you are, you might be well, good. We will however, one day, all of us, to the last, stand before a great white throne, upon which the Creator of the universe will sit.
He will not ask what your grandmother thought of you, or if your neighbors believed you were a good person. He will not judge based on your standard or my standard but based on His standard. If Jesus is not found in us, wholly and completely, He will utter the dreaded words ‘depart from Me, I never knew you!”
What we need to understand is that if we plan to stand before God in our own self righteousness, there will be men and women who by their estimation were more righteous than us. They will stand before God, resume in hand and check off all the things they did on His behalf, from preaching, to casting out devils, to prophesying in His name, and all that they did will amount to nothing at all if Jesus was not evident in them throughout their existence.
Time is short, and it would be wise for us to disrobe ourselves of our own self righteousness, of this idea that we’re good people just because we go to church once in awhile, and put on the righteousness of Christ, which shines like the sun in the darkest of night. May we walk in His righteousness, that we might be approved of God, and welcomed into His eternal kingdom.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.