First off? What is goodness? "Good" (Meriam-Webster) is merely defined as "of somewhat high but not excellent quality". Most of us, then, would believe that we are good. We're not excellent, let alone perfect, but we are of high quality in God's eyes... if we are a Christian. There is always that "qualifier". It's always "if".
If we're a Christian are we "good" in God's eyes?
Luke 18:19 "And Jesus said to him (the rich ruler), “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone."Jesus himself tells me that I'm not good since only God is "good". Some say this verse raises questions. I say that it is merely Jesus' indirect method of making a point: "I am good so that by recognizing my goodness, you see that I am God." Jesus was always meek. He presented his message of who he was in an humble manner.
If one examines "good" in context, it would seem from Strong's Lexicon (agathos) that rather than "good", "worthy" would be better used. Let me explain. Since "goodness" is not excellence nor perfection, God is more than merely "good". God is worthy because he is perfect!
Psalm 18:30 "This God—his way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him."God, then, is more than "good". More explanation for what God is follows:
Romans 12:2 (ESV) "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect."Again "good" (agathos) is used. Yes, God is "good", but he is so much more than that! Since his will is these three things, that's what God is. He's not only "good", but he is desirable and even perfect. God does no wrong. He is excellent. Hence, when Jesus said that only God is "good", he was implying that God is "perfection". That's more than good! That's excellence never excelled by any other! It would appear that mere "goodness" was thought of by the rich ruler, but Jesus's answer was even more profound. God's not just "good", he's perfect!
Since only God is perfect then what are we? We know that we fall short of perfection because only Jesus is without sin. We can be good:
Romans 8:28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose."Agathos" is the context of "good" again. It's the same word used by Jesus to the rich man. However, for those of us who truly love God, God allows all things to work together for "good". Therefore, it seems that man is capable of "good", but "goodness" is supplied by God. We see that in Romans 12:2 that God renews our mind. Our "goodness" his his "goodness", but because we're not him, we will never be perfect. But...
Matthew 5:48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.Here's what makes me fall short! It's more than not being "good", but when I fall short of "perfection" Satan tells me that I'm not good. In that sense I know he's right and won't argue with Satan because I know I'm not perfect. The Greek word is "telios". That's what I must be! I must be "complete" in moral character. I must do God's will and not my own!
Luke 6:46 (ESV) “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?The answer to the question "Am I good? lies within these two verses! We're not "good" if we don't do God's will as best as humanly possible. If we are "good" then we delight in doing God's will! When Satan confuses us or when God challenges us, we are to discern who is speaking to us and that we answer with truth. "Do I do your will, God, or do I do things my way? Do I delight in doing things your way, Lord, or do I only do them because I feel like it's a rule?"
Psalm 40:8 ESV "I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.”
Sometimes I do "good" because I'm trying to work my way to heaven. At other times I delight in doing God's will! It's the confusion of why I'm doing "good" that bothers me. We are to do good to demonstrate love for God. We must always keep that in mind. If we don't do good, then we need to question our spiritual condition. "Do I love God?" If we are doing good, we need to examine the motive. It must be that I'm doing good because I want to do God's will!
The ultimate in doing God's will is demonstrating love for others. If I do things which hurt others, or even myself, since we're told that we're to love others as our self, then I'm not in God's will and fail to be "good". Therefore, loving others is a test of whether we truly love God or not, and whether we're "good" to please him or not.
Most of us think that we love ourselves. Surely we can at least do that! Not so! We abuse our bodies with food, alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, stress, late hours, unnecessary danger, anger, disease, etc. Do we really even love ourselves? We want all the advantages of the flesh, but the comfort of God. We fool ourselves! If we truly loved our self, then we would do God's will. We are told to remain sober, temperate, slow to anger, not to be gluttons, etc., but we do those things (out of God's will) anyway. We're not "good" to our self; how are we possibly "good' to others?
When I think or do things of the flesh, I'm not "good" because I'm out of God's will. Even as I write Satan is saying "You're writing out of pride. You only write because it's a way to get into heaven!" Satan fools me at times. I question why I write.
On the other hand, when I think on not writing, God says, "If even one person is changes by what you write, go ahead and write." One person even thanked me for my thoughts. It meant much to him. I kept writing. I write because I want others to have hope as I do. That's what I call love. I hope I'm right and know that I am.
A problem arises when I sin. Should I go ahead and write? Satan tells me that I'm a hypocrite. God tells me that I'm imperfect and need more thoughts on him to desire to do his will. I listen to God. If I quit writing, I quit thinking on the things of God and begin to do more the will of Satan. My writing God's word is God's way of shielding me from "bad".
We'e all imperfect. We're all incomplete. However, if we do God's will, we can be "good" in the context that some of what we do measures up to God's standard, but we fall short.
Romans 3:23 "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God..."That's past tense, because at this moment all the sins I have ever committed are in the past. It's not that I will never sin again, for I will, but that until this moment, I'm a sinner. I'm not "good" in the sense of God being good, but I'm "good" because of God's grace. Jesus redeemed me for my past sins and future ones. God's will is that I seek forgiveness of past sins and pray for protection from future sins. That sincere prayer is "good". I will fail because I'm human, but my desire is to be sin free. My desire is to do God's will.
Thank you for allowing me in your presence to test my "goodness". It's much like a "moral inventory". Am I "good" and why am I "doing good" if I am? Now's the time to test yourself. Are you doing God's will? If not, why not? If so, what's your true motive?