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Becoming Gooder

Posted on September 13, 2020 at 3:25 PM

True Christian self-reflection must always be the discipline of comparing ourselves to God’s desired version of us. Isn’t our goal to become "gooder," if I can use that term?

We commonly tell ourselves, “We can always do better.” That is often intended as a positive phrase, encouraging ourselves to bigger and greater things. The phrase, though, has a negative side that is not always so evident. To tell ourselves, or even others, the next time can be better implies that this time was not quite good enough. We use the phrase most often in failure or when we place second, almost always in the context that this particular attempt can and should be followed by at least one more attempt to get it right. Maybe we were somewhat happy with today’s result, but the feeling is that tomorrow’s result could be better and would bring a fuller happiness if it were. Of course, that could mean greater satisfaction for us or for some observer, or for both.

So it is with Christians. We commonly say we could do better or even be better. Is that possible? Must we be better? Specifically, do we need to be better somehow to please God more? Is it his desire for us to improve our performance from what it is today?

Before we address the “better” portion of the phrase, let’s look at the “good” part. When we say we ought to be better (gooder), we imply we are already good. That is not a given, because we could be saying we are bad or a failure and want to improve upon that condition by becoming good, which would, of course, make us better. So that leaves us with the question: Are Christians good? That answer could depend on how we define good.

The Bible seems very clear that there are two kinds of people, those who choose to follow God and those who do not. These two groups of people are given different names. In Matthew 9, Jesus delineates these two groups as the righteous and the sinners. Similarly, in chapter 5 he refers to the righteous and, not unsurprisingly, the unrighteous. He expounds on those classifications by calling the same groupings the good and the evil. Therefore, the righteous or the good are the followers of God, while the unrighteous (sinners) or the evil are those who do not choose God. When we choose God, we are not simply believing in his existence. Rather, we are choosing to honor and worship him by changing our life from sin to living as he created us to live. The point is when we choose God, we move from being evil (in sin) to being good (in the Spirit). Christians are good because we now are in relationship with a good God, the source of all goodness. Our actions follow our choice and work in tandem with it. In Romans 2, Paul can naturally make the distinction between doing good and doing evil. Because we are good, we now do good and do not do evil.

As an aside, notice that being good has to do with our choice to commune with God and is not contingent on the number of “good” deeds we do. Despite the common thought, the world is not made up of those who do good deeds (those who are good) and those who do bad deeds (the bad). It is made up of those who choose to follow God and those who do not.

Given, then, that Christians are indeed good because they are now in relationship with a good God, can they be gooder? The answer is no. We cannot be gooder, because we are already good. If we are good in God’s sight, the only one that counts, how can we be better? We cannot. We are fully saved and fully connected with the Lord. We are fully good. In that respect, God is not desiring for or expecting us to be closer to him. To say that implies we are not close enough to him now. Claiming we can be gooder says we are not good enough today, which is a lie. We need to stop creating guilt by teaching God wants us to be better or do more good deeds. God is happy and satisfied with us right now. I am good and doing good today because I accepted God’s forgiveness and grace. I will continue to be good and do good tomorrow because I am his child. Nothing can change that unless, God forbid, I make the choice to leave him and return to sin and evil. 

Categories: Erased: God's Complete Forgiveness of Sins