Am I A Good Person?   1 comment

As a fellow sinner who is bombarded with this world’s perverted standard of good and bad, I thought this excerpt from my pastor’s sermon this past Sunday would be an encouragement to some and a rebuke to many, including myself. (Here’s the sermon if you want to listen to the whole thing, as Josh Harris is preaching the 5th part of a series called “Bookends of the Christian Life.”) This world, our own deceitful hearts included, tells us that if we don’t murder, if we help out charities and the poor, if we go to church and do church things, if we don’t steal and cheat and lie–if we don’t do this and we do do that, then we’re pretty good. Pretty good? According to what standard? Our standard? The standard of the law? The standard of society and our peers? Who cares? So, here’s a little excerpt from Josh’s sermon this past Sunday:

This is my plug for Jerry Bridges' new book, which speaks of the two bookends of the Christian life as the righteousness of Christ on one side and the power of the Holy Spirit on the other. There, I gave it all away--I ruined the ending.

We all want to believe that we’re basically good people. We want to believe that we’re doing good. We want to know that we measure up. And, at a much more fundamental level, we want to believe that God is pleased with us, that He accepts us… In the movie [“The Blind Side”], the husband [of Sandra Bullock] puts his arms around her to comfort her, and this is how he answers her question, Am I a good person? He says, “You are the best person I know.”

Michael Oher, with his adoptive parents.

When we ask this question, Am I a good person?, and we come to the Bible, the Bible gives us a very different answer. It doesn’t try to build up our self-esteem with empty words–it tells us the hard truth. It tells us, “No, you are not a good person.” It’s amazing how much bad news is in the Bible before you can get to the good news. No, you’re not a good person. In fact, by your very nature, Scripture tells us, “We’re sinful. We’re deserving of God’s judgment.” It tells us that nothing we can do can make us good before God, accepted before God. In fact, even our best works–even our best acts of charity and kindness to other people–are tainted by our own selfish motivations and sin.

But, then, it’s in the midst of this bad news–this hard, difficult communication–that the Bible gives us this incredibly wonderful news that says, “No, you’re not a good person. But Jesus has come to save you. Jesus has been perfectly good for you. And Jesus has died to pay for all of your sin and disobedience.”

[God] made [Christ] who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

Here’s some knowledge… God does not think you are good. God does not think I am good. In fact, God thinks we’re pretty disgusting and despicable people. Romans 3:10 says that “There is none righteous, not even one… there is none who seeks for God; all have turned aside… there is none who does good, there is not even one.” I’m pretty sure when this was written, it didn’t mean… none righteous, but you and you and you, as long as you’re not as bad as Hitler. It’s not a am-I-less-bad-than-him standard! It’s a am-I-as-good-and-pure-as-the-God-who-has-never-sinned-and-vehemently-hates-evil standard! And no one comes within any measurable distance of it.

And I’m not primarily saying this so that you who read will feel bad. The primary audience for this is myself, so that I can remind myself that there is none good but God and His sinless Son, Jesus Christ. But I don’t hope you feel bad. Rather, I hope you feel soooo bad that you turn to Jesus.

Self-esteem does nothing for our society but cause people to do atrocious acts. Tiger Woods? He’s a “good” person because he’s an amazing golfer that donates millions to charity. Good job, Tiger. Pat yourself on the back and pick yourself a mistress or two on the way home.

One of my favorite modern role models is John Piper, the head pastor at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, MN. And it’s not necessarily because he’s an intelligent man, or he’s an eloquent speaker, or that he’s so skinny and small that I could totally take him in a fight. Those are all good things, even the last one. Rather, I look up to John Piper because I have never seen a man with less self-esteem. He’s not depressed and mopey (because that’s just self-esteem cloaked in self-loathing). Rather, he has God-esteem. He thinks so little of himself because he thinks so highly of God. And that’s where he gets his motivation and that’s where he gets his confidence and that’s where he gets his boldness–from God.

Piper once said that he knew no greater sinner in this world than John Piper. Gosh, I so wish I can say that about myself–that I know no greater sinner in this world than Mitchell Kim. But I can’t because I keep on buying this lie that I feed myself that I am a pretty good person. Not as bad as some of the people I know, and definitely not as bad as Hitler. (Because everyone knows, if you’re ever feeling bad about yourself, you can always compare yourself to Hitler. But, no, Hitler is a horrible sinner, but you’re no better and I’m no better.)

Don’t feed your pride and don’t feed your self-esteem. That leads to death and sorrow and tragedy. Rather, realize your state before God that, even if you scored higher on a “goodness test” than the person next to you, he got a 1% whereas you got a 1.1%–it means you’re both failures! And the more we recognize our failures and our sins and our shortcomings, the greater God’s gift of salvation and forgiveness in Jesus Christ becomes. For those of you feeling good about yourselves, I hope you learn to feel bad about yourselves and feel good about Jesus. For those of you in Jesus, remember that though we are bad, we are covered in the righteousness of Jesus Christ.


Posted December 11, 2009 by Mitchell J. Kim in Uncategorized

One response to “Am I A Good Person?

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  1. encouraged by your post – thanks!

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