I had a conversation on FB and I like to share it here. The person wrote the following:
Please define good and what is considered as good “enough”. Because we are all work in progress and we will never be good enough.
Here’s my response:
This is a ‘good’ question.
It will be a longer-ish answer bc I want to cover all the bases (or the best that I can).
Let’s start with the truth. In the Bible, especially in NT, goodness comes in the relationship with Jesus. You can’t just follow a few rules and consider it ‘good.’ The reason is that our heart is wicked and very deceptive. We don’t even aware of our wickedness until God reveals them to us (Isaiah 6).
Examples of ‘good’ but wicked inside are Pharisees and the rich young ruler to a certain degree. In front of the public, they are ‘good.’ But they are not.
As I mentioned before, good is in seeking and desiring a relationship with Jesus. This is why the emphasis is in a relationship with Jesus through the Holy Spirit in the Christian community. Only the Holy Spirit can reveal the wickedness in our hearts, help us overcome them, and transform us into good. The latter is known as being transformed by God’s grace in faith, not in merely works and obeying set rules (Gal 5:16-18).
It isn’t about being good ‘enough.’ Following Jesus, becoming His disciple, is not like taking a driving test where you make as few as possible so you can pass. Instead, it is like falling in love. I don’t love my wife, at that time my girlfriend, just ‘enough’ to marry her. Like I don’t love her, just 51, enough to pass. There is no such scale. Even if there is a scale or some measurement, the love will be 10000000 (out of 100).
You either commit all to follow Jesus, or you don’t. If you don’t, then you are not His disciples (Matthew 6:33, Matthew 16:24).
This is how we should evaluate whether we are good disciples or not. Are we still so madly in love (of course, not romantic love) with Jesus? If we are not, or we are telling ourselves, ‘well, Cliff, you are a good disciple bc you tithe 10%, go to church every Sunday, join a fellowship, help out at ministry… etc.,’ then I miss the point. In effect, I am sure I won’t be a good disciple because my heart may be hiding some wickedness, and I refuse to acknowledge them or even aware of them, just like the Pharisees.
The second point you’ve made about work in progress and never be good enough is incorrect. In the Bible, there are specific standards that we must adhere to. No stealing, don’t sleep around, don’t covet, don’t worship idols, etc.
Follow Jesus isn’t just rules with no relationship. It is not like in Singapore (or Canada or any other country) where we have to adhere to its law, and if we break them, we face a judge.
God, through the Holy Spirit, is there to help us every step of the way. That is, only if we are willing to let Him work in us. This is where I don’t believe we are all work in progress.
It is possible to be called a Christian and refused to let the Holy Spirit work in our hearts. I want to do it my way, and I don’t care. I experience that I can feel the prompting of the Holy Spirit in my own life and refuse to do so. That’s disobedient (aka sin). If you need supporting verses, please take a look at 2 Corinthians 7:1, Romans 12:1-2, etc.
As for the other point about never being good enough, it is not about perfection but having the attitude to aim toward perfection (in Christ). Even Jesus told us we are to be perfect (Matt 5:48).
A good example of perfection is that we are mature at every stage of our Christian life. I have two daughters. They are 4 and 2. They are to be mature in their age development. I don’t expect the 2 to act like 4. Vice versa, if I see my 4 yr old acting like a 2 yr old, then I see she is immature, and it grieves my heart. This is how we should view perfection by seeing whether we are mature in our stage of work in Christ.
Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 3:2 that they should be eating meat (more mature believers), but bc they aren’t mature, they are still craving milk (baby Christians). As such, they are not ‘perfected’ in their stage.
Of course, the stage varies from one person to another. This, of course, depends on how much we are willing to surrender our lives to seek Him and obey Him.