As Jesus was starting out on his way to Jerusalem, a man came running up to him, knelt down, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked. “Only God is truly good. But to answer your question, you know the commandments: ‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. You must not cheat anyone. Honor your father and mother.’” “Teacher,” the man replied, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.” Mark 10:17-20 (NLT)
If you were to ask people if they were good, most people innately say, "Yes." We all get our sense of goodness by comparing ourselves with people who we usually see as worse than we are. You know murderers, rapists, child abusers, Hitler, Miley Cyrus, (hahaha), etc….
The same is true regarding most of us reading this. Even though we knowingly have done all sorts of wrong things, why do we still think that we are innately good? Is it wishful thinking? Is it simply we just don’t like to think poorly of ourselves? Is it all of the above and something more? The answer is yes and yes.
Our perception is off; we are using the wrong measuring stick. Comparing "goodness and "badness" is a dead end and keeps us from seeing our true nature in light of God’s perfect one.
There is Only One Good
The first thing is that this young man noticed that Jesus possessed goodness. There was something in Jesus noticeably different from other religious leaders. Or the young man was just trying to win favor with Jesus, either way, he called Him good. Jesus used this man’s words as an opportunity to teach him, and those in the crowd, that true goodness is reserved for only one - God.
In case you are still unsure if God is the only one good, here are some scriptures that speak in line with what Jesus is saying…
Psalm 51:5 (NLT)
5 For I was born a sinner—yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.
Matthew 7:11 (ESV)
If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! (These are strong words from Jesus) Emphasis mine.
For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.
We need to see that we are guilty and have all built up this terrible record of sin against ourselves before God. Our natural question, like the young man’s, in light of these verses should be, “What Must I do?”
We need to see that only Jesus goodness is heaven-worthy. We need to recognize that it is Jesus' death on the cross for our "badness" that gives us the ability to become good in God's eyes. Like it says, "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." (2 Cor. 5:21).
Today if you have already received Jesus' goodness in place of your own, thank Him! If you are relying on your own perceived goodness to get you into heaven, repent (turn from that way of thinking and living) and turn to Jesus and His cross.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for dying in my place so that I could become righteous (forgiven and in good standing) before God.