To God be the glory, for He is the only one who is good.
None of us would claim to be good. We are too aware that Jesus himself refused such a label: “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.” (Mark 10:18) Jesus was tempted in every way like we are, but did not sin. (Hebrews 4:15) If even he refused to be called “good”, how could we possibly claim to be?
But. Around us are vast numbers of people who will say things like, “I believe that people are basically good.” By which they are saying they believe they themselves are basically good. And this sort of thinking rubs off, even if we would never utter the words that we think we’re good.
We know why Jesus refused the label. He was intimately acquainted with what is in all of us. (John 2:24-25, Genesis 6:5, Jeremiah 17:9) He could feel the unceasing pull of the flesh. He knew the enemy within, and he knew that until it was demolished he could not be characterized as “good”.
It’s indisputable that Jesus did good, and I’ve spoken before (often actually) about God’s expectation that we “do good”. We are capable to doing good, and we are commanded to do it, and in fact sometimes we succeed to one degree or another. That doesn’t make us “basically good”. We need to get this right side up in our minds. We aren’t basically good, with occasional lapses. We are basically corrupt, even if we’re trying hard to do better.
If we were “basically good”, we would deserve eternal life—surely God would excuse the occasional lapses, wouldn’t He? But in fact, we are in desperate need of being rescued from the inherent corruption at our core.
Here’s the key thing: Grace isn’t a small thing, excusing a few slip-ups. Grace is an enormous thing, the breadth and length and height and depth of which we can scarcely get out minds around. (Ephesians 3:14-21)
To God be the glory, for He is the only one who is good. To God be thanksgiving and praise, for saving us from ourselves. To ascribe good to ourselves, even unconsciously, detracts from the glory due to Him alone.
With our perspective right side up, then, let’s commit ourselves to do all the good we are capable of—ascribing all good to the God whose grace is our only hope.