Tag Archives: good

Is It Wrong To Call Someone “Good”?

Today I was asked a very good question.

Jesus said, “Why do you call me good?  No one is good except God alone” (Mark 10:18).  Therefore, should Christians refrain from calling anyone “good,” as in “So-and-so is a good person”?

The Greek word translated in English as “good” in Jesus’ conversation with the rich young ruler is agathos, which is defined as “of good constitution or nature,” “useful, salutary,” “good, pleasant, agreeable, joyful, happy,” “excellent, distinguished,” and “upright, honourable.”

Jesus used this same Greek word when he talked of how his Father made his sun to rise on the evil “and on the good” (Matt. 5:45).  He used it when he said, “A good man out of the good treasure of the heart brings forth good things” (Matt. 12:35).  He used it in a parable when he talked of servants who “gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good” (Matt. 22:10), and in another parable when he told of the master who said to his servant, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matt. 25:21, 23).

In like manner, Luke was inspired by the Holy Spirit of God (2 Pet. 1:19-21) to use this same Greek word to describe Joseph and Barnabas (Luke 23:50; Acts 11:24).  Paul also was inspired to use this same word when he wrote, “…though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die” (Rom. 5:7).

Therefore, it’s clear from how “good” is used repeatedly throughout Scripture to describe imperfect human beings that it is not sinful or erroneous to refer to certain of our fellow man as “good.”  So why did Jesus say to the rich young ruler, “Why do you call me good?  No one is good except God alone” (Mark 10:18)?

First, remember that God is the ultimate epitome of goodness due to his sinless perfection and boundless love, patience, grace, and compassion.  While we imperfect human beings can justifiably and biblically be called “good” in certain ways and by various degrees as shown above, none of us can ever attain the degree of goodness possessed by Jehovah due to our sin (Rom. 3:23).

Secondly, Jesus IS God (John 1:1, 14; 10:30; 17:11, 22; 14:9; Phil. 2:6; 2 Cor. 4:4; Col. 1:15, 19).  This fact was brought up repeatedly by him during his preaching and by the miracles he wrought throughout his earthly ministry (cf. Mark 2:5-12).  Because of this, it is clear that when the rich young ruler initially addressed him as “Good Teacher” (Mark 10:17), Jesus immediately saw another opportunity to proclaim himself as Deity.  Thus, he replied, “Why do you call me good?  No one is good except God alone” (v. 18), a subtle but definite hint to the ruler, anyone else who was listening, and to us as readers today that the ruler was addressing Deity when he spoke to Jesus.

Thus, one should take “No one is good except God alone” not as an indictment of sin by Christ against referring to anyone other than God as “good.”  If that was the case, Christ himself as well as his inspired apostles and prophets would have violated his own edict by referring both generally and specifically to imperfect human beings as “good.”  Rather, one should interpret Jesus’ statement to the rich young ruler primarily as an implication of his Deity and secondarily as an indication that our own goodness can never compare to the goodness of God.

I Appeal To You…

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Romans 12:1-2 – Scripture Of The Day (January 10, 2014)

What first jumps out at me is the “appeal.”  Paul (and therefore God, since Paul was writing under inspiration – 1 Cor. 14:37) is appealing to us to present our bodies as a living sacrifice and be transformed by the renewing of our minds.  God doesn’t force us to do anything (Josh. 24:15).  Rather, happeals to us.  What love!  What consideration!

What next gets me thinking is that Paul is making this appeal to us “by the mercies of God.”  That tells me that not only are we forgiven by the mercy of God, but even our obedience of God, our spiritual growth and progress, our walk with him, only happens due to his mercy.  That makes sense, when you stop and think about it.  We all have sinned, after all (1 John 1:8), and we deserve death for our sins (Rom. 6:23)…not the opportunity to serve and glorify the One whom we have wronged.  Again, what love!  What consideration!

What is the appeal?  To present our “bodies” as “a living sacrifice.”  In other words, All To Jesus I SurrenderNone of Self and All of Thee.  Christianity is not just a weekend activity or an extra-curricular activity.  Our Christianity is not our alter-ego, and it does not revolve around our lives.  No, our lives revolve around our Christianity.  The kingdom and the righteousness of God come first, above everyone and everything else (Matt. 6:33; 22:35).  Christian, is your life like that?  Do you want to be “holy and acceptable to God”?  Guess what you have to do?

What is our “spiritual worship”?  He was just talking about dedicating our entire lives to God.  Does that mean all of our lives consists of worship to God?  No, because the Greek word translated “worship” here could also be translated “service.”  (Plus, consider this.  Are we worshiping God while we’re sinning?  While we’re sleeping?  While we’re eating?  There’s no biblical example of anyone doing that, and the more examples we think of the more absurd the notion becomes.  Worship in spirit and truth [John 4:24] consists of purposeful actions which he has commanded us to do in praise and honor to him [Col. 3:16; 4:2; Acts 2:42]).  So here’s what God’s really telling us.  Do you want to really be “spiritual”?  Do you really want to serve God?  Dedicate your entire life to obeying his revealed will in the Word of God.  That’s true spiritual service.

In order to do that, we can’t be “conformed to the world.”  Ask yourselves this, Christians.  How different from the world are you, really?  God’s not talking about not liking tacos because your non-Christian neighbor likes tacos.  God’s talking about not watching porn like the majority of this country does.  God’s talking about not cussing or gossiping like the majority of the people around us do.  God’s talking about dressing modestly at all times when you’re in public…unlike most people in our society.  God’s talking about your Facebook “About” page having “Christian” under the “Religion” section…and not having dirty jokes, foul language, and immodest pictures in the “Status” section…get the picture?  Would the people you work with, go to school with, and hang out with be surprised to see you with a Bible in your hand, or if they got an invite to come to church with you, or to see you with bowed head in prayer?  If so…why is that?

In order for us to not be conformed to the world, we have to “be transformed.”  How?  “By the renewing of our mind.”  We have to change the way we think.  We have to change our worldview, our priorities.  How do we do that?  Read Psalm 1.  Want to be like the man described in verses 1 and 3?  Want to not be like the people described in verses 4 and 5?  You have to be like the man described in verse 2…every single day.  Do that…with an open and honest heart (Luke 8:15)…and you’d be surprised at how quickly the transformation starts to occur.  Don’t, and you’ll just keep on being a Christian-In-Name-Only…and you won’t like what happens to you on the Day of Judgment (Matt. 7:21-27; Heb. 10:26-31).

(Here’s a test.  If you’re truly interested in transforming your mind and are unfamiliar with Psalm 1 and the other scriptures I’ve cited thus far, you will have already turned to them in your Bible or looked them up on the Internet by now.  If you just nodded your head and moved on, you have a ways to go before you’ll start to look different from the rest of the world.  This is real, people.  It’s not going to happen to you by accident, and not without dedication and hard work.  Just sayin’…)

If you work very hard at transforming your mind (cf. 2 Pet. 1:5-11), guess what you’re doing?  You’re “discerning what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”  You won’t have to wonder about where God stands on things, or what would Jesus do.  You’ll know, because you are storing up God’s will in your heart in order to avoid sin (Ps. 119:11; Heb. 5:12-14).  Not only that, but you will be finding out what Proverbs brings out time and time again…that doing things God’s way really is the good way, the acceptable way, the perfect way.

This is what Christianity is all about, folks…