Proverbs 20:6 – “Most men will proclaim each his own goodness, but who can find a faithful man?” NKJV
Through the years I have met people who, when asked about their relationship with Christ, declared I am a good person. They usually tell me what they do not do, some tell me about their acts of benevolence, civic contributions, or something of the kind. Others will tell me that they go to church regularly and others relatively regularly.
I have found this passage to be incredibly reflective of how many people view themselves. Basically good or as good as the next fellow. I recall one occasion when the person who said this, was a regular in church but had a propensity to hit the nightspots and cavort with the ladies while his wife and children remained at home. He made little secret of his lifestyle but because he considered himself “as good as the next fellow” he felt little reason to change.
In the many conversations with this individual, he would point out the flaws in other people in the community, the church, and especially those in leadership. He mostly compared apples with turnips but nonetheless, it was his justification for allowing his conscience to become calloused guarding against conviction. I understood his argument for I too held those views at one time.
The rural church I grew up in had flawed people (as do all churches) and I wrongly determined that if some of those people were going to heaven God could not send me to hell for I was “as good as the next fellow”. I went to Vietnam with that mindset. It was terribly wrong, but it was the view I adopted because it allowed me to not deal with the pricks of the Holy Spirit.
I had occasions to talk to this individual and in the course of one conversation the account in Mark 10 came up. I read to him the words of Jesus when He was called “Good teacher or Good master” and Jesus stopped the individual and said, “Why are you calling me good? No one is good except God alone.” The man was shocked and I continued the account of how this rich individual had proclaimed his personal goodness when Jesus told Him to keep the commandments. Jesus then informed the rich young man that he still came up short and this individual was a captive audience at that point. I read to him the words of Jesus, “One thing you lack, go, sell everything you have and give it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. THEN come, follow me.” The ruler was heartbroken and turned away because his possessions held his heart and his personal goodness was insufficient to save him.
While many, if not most of us, would like to compare ourselves with others and declare that we are “as good as the next fellow” if we are honest, we know that is a flawed view. Salvation is never earned. It is by Grace through Faith. God does not measure my life against your life, but His standard is Himself, the Lord Jesus, and His Holy Word. In that light, everyone knows we have been weighed in the balance and found wanting. If we understand the standard, we know all have sinned and come short of God’s glory. If we understand the standard, we know that the invitation of Jesus to “Come unto Me” is our only Hope of Salvation!
May God be with you as you go through this day!