“And a ruler asked him, ‘Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.” (Luke 18:18-19)
A rich young ruler was trying to justify himself to Jesus. He thought he had lived a good enough life to enter eternal life. He asked Jesus the above question because he wanted to justify what he already thought was good enough. However, Jesus responded with a very poignant question, “Why do you call me good?” Then Jesus followed this question up with stating that no one is good except God alone. So, what is the lesson in this exchange?
As human beings, we think that as long as we are good people, God will let us spend eternity with him. However, our definition of goodness is a little flawed; in fact, it’s a lot flawed. When we call ourselves a good person, we are comparing our goodness with everyone else on the planet, and usually we compare ourselves to the worst examples of humanity. The rich young ruler was no different. He was comparing himself to everyone else and he thought he stood out from the rest. He was rich; thus, the consensus was that the rich were obviously favored by God. But, Jesus challenged his definition of goodness, and Jesus is challenging our definition of goodness too.
When we think we are good enough, we have to compare our goodness to the originator of goodness, God himself. One day we will all stand before God and God will judge our goodness. The standard He will use will be Jesus, the perfect Son of Man. Does our goodness compare to Jesus?
Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” We have all fallen short of the glory and goodness of God. Therefore, we need someone to intervene; that’s where Jesus comes in. When we give our lives to Christ, he takes our “goodness” and gives us His. So, when God sees us, He sees us as good as His Son.
Question: Do you rely on your goodness or the goodness of Christ?
Challenge: Read Luke 18:18-30 and reflect on the story of the rich young ruler.
Prayer: Lord, thank you for giving me your goodness.
Ryan Reveley, League Coordinator -- Appalachian League