I’ve often heard people talk about how, even if there is a God, “I’m not a bad person.”
The notion is that even if they don’t think about God, or so much as consider Jesus, they couldn’t possibly be “bad” enough to be denied salvation.
Now those arguments can go back and forth forever in terms of God’s fairness. But that isn’t my point today. My point today is to address our rather faulty concepts of good and evil.
You see, lots of people think that they’re pretty good. I maintain that people, as a whole (and this includes myself) aren’t really good at all. Oh, I may be fairly nice, and pleasant to be around, but I’m not good.
The problem is, people think that because they aren’t evil, or even just vaguely bad, then they must be good. I see this all the time. It’s kind of like how almost everyone (myself included) thinks they are smart, or at least above average in intelligence.
But not being evil doesn’t make you good.
Just like not being a villain doesn’t make you a hero.
To be honest, most people are somewhere in the middle, and by and large, we tend toward badness. Not overt cruelty usually, but plenty of little things. Not smiling at someone. Moving past a person asking for money. Not listening well enough to someone in distress. Not honoring our loved ones enough. Being too fixated on our own wants and needs.
No, people aren’t good overall, and that’s regardless of religious beliefs.
But having said that, it’s a good exercise for me to look at my actions in light of God’s expectations and Jesus’ teachings. When I look at my actions by worldly standards, I’ll go pretty easy on myself and pat myself on my own back quite readily. When I apply a spiritual filter to that assessment, though, I come up short, and I realize that while I’m not heinous, I have a long, long way to go before I should be using the label “good.”
In fact, I doubt I’ll ever get to that point.
And chances are you won’t either.