Friday, August 3, 2018

A Dog's Eye: the measure of a good man part 2

Bill and Fred have different opinions of George: one good, the other bad. Which is true? The Bible says that George is a bad man, but no worse than Bill or Fred. The truth is, compared to God, we are all bad. Romans 3:23 says that "All men have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." There's no shame in that. God is perfectly good. We are not.

Men are judged by their deeds, so eye surgeon and humanitarian Fred Hollows, for example, was a good man whereas Port Arthur mass murderer, Martin Bryant is not. The average person would perhaps consider themselves not as "good" as Hollows, but much better than Bryant. Compared to each other, our goodness or badness is relative, but compared to God we are bad, because God alone is absolutely good. He is perfect. Jesus himself, during his incarnation, even rejected the appellation "good teacher", by saying that God alone is good. We are born in sin, and we die in sin unless we get saved.

If we reject the Bible's teaching on the subject of sin, how can we possibly determine who is good and who is not with any degree of objectivity and fairness? Many people, in this post modern age of relative truth and morality, say that we don't need to make such judgments. That is why you may hear a thousand different answers to the question: 'what is the measure of a good man?"

Let me clear here. When I speak of judging the goodness and badness of people, I am in fact saying that we should not do that because we are not qualified. On the basis that we are all bad, we are not equipped to judge people. We can however make honest assessments of ourselves which should allow us to be more forgiving of others and gracious to them. 

I suggest there is one answer. The Biblical measure of a man's goodness, remembering that when compared with God our own righteousness is like filthy rags, can be assessed by how he relates to three distinct groups of people; friends, strangers and enemies.

As for the first group, friends are friends because, among other things, they treat each other well, have common interests, help each other and show loyalty. It's easy to be "good" to your friends, and by being "good" to them, it is easy for them to reciprocate. It's easy to love your friends, but as Jesus said, "If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?" (Luke 6:32)

Strangers and enemies are different kettles of fish, and I will deal with them in more detail in part 3 of the measure of a good man.

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