Christians are expected to be good people. In fact, many non-Christians expect more from Christians than they do from themselves or anyone else. Jesus Himself told His first followers, “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.”1 That doesn’t mean we are to act in a self-righteous goody-two-shoes way. That isn’t the goodness Jesus gives. Rather it is genuine goodness of the heart shown in honesty, empathy, helpfulness, and a multitude of other ways.
Sad to say, as Christians we can take on the mistaken idea we’re supposed to be perfect, which no one is, of course, or can be. We’re far better off just doing the best we can, honestly and humbly admitting our faults and mistakes, and then giving God the glory for anything good we do. That’s His idea of goodness. If you do your best and trust God for the rest, His goodness will shine through.
God’s idea of goodness is often quite different from ours. King David plotted the death of another man so he could have his wife. But David knew he was a sinner whose only hope was the love, mercy, and forgiveness of God, and because he repented greatly and loved God all the more after what he had gone through, God called David a man after His own heart.2 God took the apostle Paul, a fanatical persecutor of the early Christians, and made him one of the greatest Christians of all time.3 Jesus took a demon-possessed harlot, Mary Magdalene, and made her one of His favorite followers.4
God’s idea of goodness is not sinless perfection. It’s a sinner who knows he has no righteousness of his own, but depends totally on the goodness of God. These are the only saints there are; there are no others!—David Brandt Berg (1919–1994)