Skip to main content

Doing Good ≠ Being Good

Time for some clarification.

I don't think wearing a mask is equivalent to being unselfish. Neither is refraining from singing in church or maintaining proper social distancing rules.

Let me say this another way. 

Good actions don't always come from a good heart. Not everyone who obeys government ordinances regarding COVID-19 does so out of love for God and love for others.

People are motivated to obey the rules for all sorts of reasons.

They do it to avoid guilt.
They do it to be appreciated.
They do it to be seen as good.
They do it so others will think well of them.
They do it to maintain their illusion of perfection.
They do it out of fear of displeasing God.
They do it because everyone else is doing it.
They do it to feel good about themselves.
They do it out of fear of dying.
They do it out of fear of the future.
They do it so their spouse won't pester them.
They do it so as not to rock the boat.
Or they do it because they just find masks terribly comfortable.

The fact of the matter is, we can't see what's inside others' hearts. One person might obey while secretly feeling God now owes him something. Another disobeys because he knows he cannot hide the rebel in his heart. The compliant individual is like the brother to the prodigal. The rebel is like the prodigal. From appearances, the compliant seemed less selfish. The rebel seemed totally selfish. But which one chose the right way? The one who repented. And which one needed to repent? Both.

Let me start from another point and maybe that'll make things clearer.

No one is good but God. No one loves God with all their heart, soul, and mind. No one loves their neighbor as themselves. No one acts from an unselfish heart. It's impossible.

However, God asks that we do just that. And I think it's a good idea to try because it's only through trying our darndest that we realize, we can't.

When we try to submit to the governing authorities (a good thing to do) by wearing masks and quarantining and temporarily not singing in church, most of us will probably discover that we have very little love in our hearts for those who don't do likewise. In fact, we feel quite angry at those people who are not keeping the rules as rigidly as we do and who accuse us of being afraid. We might discover that we actually only love those who behave according to our standards and treat us with respect.

I realize, this is not true of everyone. Those moved by the Holy Spirit will find love in their hearts even for those who point in their faces and call them rule-keeping, gullible cowards. Those lead by the Spirit neither feel the need to justify themselves or defend their reputation. They have fallen upon the Lord Jesus Christ for the assurance of their own goodness, for their security for the future, and for the power to influence others through love.

So the question for the Christian is not do we choose to love others or courageously fight for our freedoms. 

The question is do we deceive ourselves into thinking we are good because of our seemingly unselfish or seemingly courageous choices, or do we recognize the many ways we fall short no matter how hard we try, repent of our self-centeredness, and ask God to do it for us? 

"Just as surely as God desires to lead us to a knowledge of genuine Christian fellowship, so surely must we be overwhelmed by a great general disillusionment with others, with Christians in general, and, if we are fortunate, with ourselves." 

Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. (2012) . Life Together. "Not an Ideal But a Divine Reality." [Kindle] Loc 144-165

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Baptism Testimony

I didn't used to want to be baptized. I was too stubborn. I was determined to be the upright, genuine Christian who wasn't baptized—something of a superior class, I suppose. All that physical symbolism was for the archaic layman or the really emotional sort or the person who's afraid baptism is necessary for salvation. It's not for me. It's not for the steady, reliable believer who's doesn't have a big conversion story. I was in preschool when I prayed the prayer. In 6th grade, I gained a deeper understanding of sin while bickering with my siblings in the backseat of the family van. When I was 16, I began a daily quiet time with the Lord. And now at 36, I'm hearing the Lord asking me to make my faith work. Make the rubber meet the road. Get out of "morbid introspection and into deeds," out of "anxious hesitation and into the storm of events" (Rohr & Ebert, 129-130). Stop retreating into my head to figure out God and salvation

Why the Enneagram Numbers Quarantine

Type 1: The Reformer     I quarantine because it's the right thing to do and everyone ought to be doing their part for society by following the same procedures. Type 2: The Helper     No, I'm not concerned about myself, but I quarantine for everyone else. I want to help my neighbors feel safe, and I would absolutely die if I found out I had passed on the virus to someone else. Type 3: The Performer    I quarantine because that's what's expected of me, right? Plus, think about how bad it would look if I didn't. Type 4: The Individualist     I would've loved to quarantine before all this started but now that everyone is doing it, I'm not so sure I want to follow along. I guess I'll quarantine but somehow find a way to still remain exceptional. Type 5: The Observer     I might quarantine. I might not. I probably will while researching the facts about this virus. When I know enough, I'll make a final decision. Type 6: The Guardian     I q

Wanting the Ends Without the Means

I want my children to learn to get along, But I don't want to hear them fight. I want them to feel their emotions and understand them, But I don't want them to slam doors or be sassy. I want them to be respectful to adults, But I don't want to be embarrassed when they say something totally inappropriate. I want them to choose to obey me, But I don't want to come up with consequences when they don't. I want them to fill their own time with play, But I don't want to clean up the mess when they put stickers on the walls or throw tomatoes over the neighbor's fence or carve into the walls or cut through the upholstery with scissors. I want them to be good. But I don't want to suffer through their becoming good. I want a rich and seasoned relationship with my husband, But I don't want to endure seasons of dryness or coldness or disinterestedness. I want to have friends who are different than me, But I don't want to hear their threatening opinions. I wa