Wednesday, August 18, 2010

No One Is Good, But Try Your Best

All have turned aside,
       they have together become corrupt;
       there is no one who does good,
       not even one.
 Will evildoers never learn—
       those who devour my people as men eat bread
       and who do not call on the LORD ?
 There they are, overwhelmed with dread,
       for God is present in the company of the righteous. Psalm 14: 3-5

Today’s Reading: Psalms 13-15; Acts 19: 21-41

So I had an interesting facebook discussion with my folks online today. It started when I posted the following statement:

“Sometimes it feels like it pays to be bad. But bad seed will never sprout good fruit. The law of the harvest ain't no joke.”

The statement was in response to some general things I have been noticing lately as well as a recent conversation that I had with my mom. We were talking about how a lot of the rules we encounter that don’t seem to make sense are made to control for a few foul folks trying to get over.

Because of them, we are all inconvenienced.

When I posted that comment I didn’t think much of it. It was just something that I was feeling at the time… so I was surprised that I got a litany of responses from it. All of the responses were good and full of wisdom. I think that God was speaking to me through my friends and loved ones.

Thank you all for allowing yourselves to be the wonderful messengers that you are.

But one comment in particular got me. It was from Isaiah’s mom, Nya. She challenged my implicit notion of goodness. She said that as long as we live on this earth we will never be good or perfect. This immediately took me back to what we read in the Gospel of Mark when Jesus said the following:

"Why do you call me good?" Jesus answered. "No one is good—except God alone” – Mark 10:18.

She was dead on right with this one.

I was challenged to think about what I really meant. I didn’t really mean “good” in the sense above ya know, I really just meant there are good people and bad people. You dig me right?

Eh… I guess…

But this whole good and bad people thing gets to be problematic. I am no better than anyone else no matter what I think about someone’s actions. Positioning me as good versus someone else is an implicit value statement. And as I have said countless times in the past… Judging is NOT the business.

So this conversation bounced around my subconscious for the rest of the evening until it was time for me to do my daily reading. That’s when I came across the Psalm above. It was the second confirmation of what she was saying.

“There is no one who does good, not even one.” – Psalm 14:3

But then it goes on to say that “God is present in the company of the righteous”.

What in the heck does “righteous” mean? How can it say that no one is good in one breath, and then mention the righteous in another?

They must mean different things.

Of course of to the Wiki I went and found this article. I also checked my mammoth concordance and they both supported my initial spark of understanding. Righteousness is a statement about a person’s actions whereas “good” is a statement of being.

None of us are good or perfect but that’s ok. We aren’t required to be. But what we are required to do is to do our best to keep our actions in a righteous place. Although we will never be able to act in a justifiable way at all times, or even most of the time, we can always strive towards a higher standard of excellence.

That’s what this life journey is all about anyway right? Shoot for the stars and perhaps we’ll hit the moon. And if we hit the moon we will have still gone out of this world.
One thing that this journey through the Bible has taught me is that understanding doesn’t come all at once. It must be patiently sought out and worked toward. If we persevere then maybe we will get a glimpse of it, a vision that may change our lives forever.

Seeking wisdom is like being a sculptor. You gotta patiently chip away at confusion to reveal the beauty of understanding.

I’ve got my hammer and chisel in hand. Hopefully soon I can pull out the sand paper to smooth out the edges.

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A Convo With God by Clarence Mitchell III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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