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"Be a good boy." I remember this phrase, in various forms, being the centre of parental guidance in my youth. When you would be saying good-bye to Grandma and Grandpa, they would say, "Be good". When you'd be going out with your friends, Dad would say, "now be a good boy." I think dad even said it when I was a teenager. Did your parents say this phrase to you? Do you say it? Most of the time, I knew exactly what Dad meant. But, it did leave much to the imagination. Sometimes, it wasn't clear what was good and what was bad. It didn't seem like a bad decision for me and my cousin to take the four-
Many believe today that if we are good, we'll get into heaven. If our good outweighs our bad, surely a loving God would let us in. After all, I've heard it many times that "God is good, all the time." But if we step back for a moment, being good leaves a lot of unanswered questions, perhaps the biggest being, "How good is good enough?" Does God send us on our preverbial way saying "Be a good boy", leaving it up to us to figure out exactly what that is? We run into problems right away. Your good, doesn't match my good. But I'm sure my good is better than my neighbours. It's getting a bit more complicated. But you could say, "God has made His standards clear. I live my life by the Ten Commandments and the Bible. That's what is good". Right, I agree. But again, how good is good enough? Surely you're not saying you've never broken the ten commandments? I can believe you've never murdered or stolen, but you've never dishonoured your parents? Never? Remember, Jesus set a pretty high standard that even if you thought about it, it wasn't good. "But I've kept all the big ones". Ok, which ones are the big ones? Murder, but not lying? Adultery, but not swearing? What gives you the right to decide? Well, if you believe in God, I think we can agree that only God really has the qualifications to decide how good is good enough. And He has. "We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way" (Isaiah 53:6a, NIV). How good is good enough? Nothing less than everything God asks us to do in His Word. God has set the standard of what is good, and the Bible says we all have gone astray.
Easter week (which is when I'm writing this) reminds us of a significant "G" word. No, not good. But GRACE. Whether we're good or not is not the question. He has made a way to heaven for us despite our own un-goodness. "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-not by works (not by being good), so that no one can boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9, NIV). Phew. That's a relief. It's about the gift of grace, not the merits of my goodness (merits which don't cut it anyway). I'm glad God grades on GRACE, not my goodness.
Click the play button above to listen to a beautiful song of worship proclaiming this grace given freely through Christ.
I welcome your comments, questions or prayer concerns.
Further Reading: "How Good is good enough?" by Andy Stanley