Jesus said that there is only “One” that is good, and that is God.
He said that because someone had called him, “good.”
We may understand Jesus’ response as making a statement concerning himself – a statement concerning his deity. Not that he was identifying himself as among those who are not good. Quite the opposite! Jesus was saying in effect, “Why do you refer to me as, ‘good’ if only God is good?” (Mk 10:18) “Since you do, you must understand that I am God,” Jesus was, in fact, defining himself.
But his response has implications for you and me as well. It bears upon what kind of child of God we might be.
Several times in Scripture, we are advised that no human being is “good.” That means that no person who has ever lived, apart from Jesus himself -- whose life is not riddled with sin, whose life is not a continual struggle with sin -- and who has not lost in that struggle. That being said and acknowledged, there can be no Christians who are “good Christians.” The idea is oxymoronic, a contradiction in terms.
If one is a “Christian,” by definition it means one who has been redeemed from his sins and declared righteous, even though he still struggles with the forces of evil both internally and externally. This means that despite our continual struggle with our proclivity to sin, God sees us as righteous, a righteousness that comes by faith and a righteousness that is credentialed by the death of his Son on the cross.
Most of us use the phrase, “good Christian,” to describe someone whose faith is obvious and whose life behavior is exemplary. To be sure, this is a goal toward which all of us must strive. Some of us may succeed at this better than others, but none of us will succeed enough to deserve God’s forgiveness or mercy. Only God’s love and grace is sufficient for this. None of us can succeed enough to really be called, “good.”
We must be careful using this terminology. Some whom we may think good may have character flaws about which we know nothing and whose lives are proved to be nothing we would want to emulate. And some whom we think dysfunctional or worse, may prove to be exemplary beyond anything we could imagine. God is the only One who really is capable of evaluating our contribution to his purpose.
Perhaps one of the greatest lessons in life is to learn how to live with and manage one’s weaknesses, to play well with the cards you are dealt -- whatever they are.
The scripture says that it is God who works in you, both to will (make decisions) and to do of his good pleasure. Therefore, it is God who allows me and works with me to deal with myself and he helps me to manage the cards in the best way possible, given my weakness of character.
Suffice it to say that a good Christian is someone who seeks to be intimate with the Savior in terms of his own understanding. God knows his or her heart. God knows the struggles that another person is going through, We do not.
When we refer to someone as a good Christian, let us make that statement within the context that God has accepted him or her. We err when we make judgments of another’s faith. But if a person has been or is a recipient of God’s love and grace, that means he or she is “good enough” for God. Such being the case, that person is more than good enough for us.