In counseling with a woman in relapse to drugs she said, “I’m a good person.” That is an attempt to excuse and justify her addiction. Every time I hear that statement the thought occurs, “Compared to whom?” The only standard of comparison for a believer is Christ. Just because you have no felonies, your family still speaks to you, you have avoided jail and have no severe medical consequences from your addiction does not constitute good.
Jesus asked the rich young ruler who called him “good teacher”, “Why do you speak to me of ‘good’? Only God is good.” For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Anyone who exalts herself above others and believes herself to be a good person does not know the true condition of her own heart or the requirements to live in the Kingdom of God now.
I believe that Jesus was testing the rich young ruler when he said “Why do you speak to me of ‘good’? Only God is good.” Since “goodness” is defined by and arises from the character of God, in calling Jesus ‘good’, could it be that the rich young ruler was signaling that he recognized Jesus as the Messiah, the Christ, and wanted to know what he needed to do to be saved. But Jesus knew what was in the young man’s heart…..pridefulness over his status and view of himself as a righteous person. It almost seems that he expected Jesus to commend him and tell him he was doing everything and all things required for heaven. But Jesus knew his heart and asked everything of him…..to sacrifice his wealth. The rich young man went away sad. It was not what he wanted to hear. .