27. What does it mean to be good?

18 Now a certain ruler asked Him, saying, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 19 So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God…”
Luke 18

    The virtue in Lesson 27 of BELIEVE is goodness. It also lists the word "kindness," but in every place where the word kindness is listed, it could be translated just as accurately as "goodness." So let us use that word as our virtue word. A form of the word "goodness" is used in the story from Luke 18 known as the "rich young ruler." 

    The rich “young” ruler (the Bible never says he was young) who came to Christ was sadly unfulfilled in his life. Maybe without thinking, he called Jesus “Good Teacher.”

    Jesus immediately saw an opportunity to expose his proud, self-righteous, and empty heart. The ruler was good, but not compared to Christ or God. This ruler, who kept “all” of the commandments (or so he thought … or so he said he thought) since he was a youth, did not realize what he was lacking.

    Jesus told him no one was truly good except for God. The “one thing” the ruler lacked was actually what he had: his possessions. Jesus loved the man, and told him the one thing that would bring him true fullness—to sell all and give to the poor and follow Christ. He was impoverished by his wealth.

    The Bible never gives his name. Could he have come to Christ later? I hope so but the Bible never says.

    Contrast the rich ruler to another ruler whom was “a good man”: Joseph of Arimathea. A member of the Sanhedrin Council, Joseph did not agree with the condemnation of Jesus to be crucified. Unlike the rich ruler, this ruler risked all that he had; that is, his position on the Council, in order for him to take the body of Jesus and to lay him in his own newly hewn tomb. Luke records that Joseph was “a good and upright man” (Luke 23:50, NIV).

     Compare the rich ruler also with another man whom Luke calls “good” and who also was named Joseph (Joses in King James).  He was a Levite who sold a field and gave the money to the apostles (Acts 4:36-37). This “son of encouragement” (so named by the apostles) was like Joseph of Arimathea, unafraid to take a stand, including reaching out to the once persecutor of the church, Saul of Tarsus, and bringing him to the apostles (Acts 9:27).

    Luke describes this “good man” named Barnabas in Acts 11.

22 Then news of these things came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent out Barnabas to go as far as Antioch. 23 When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord. 24 For he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord. 25Then Barnabas departed for Tarsus to seek Saul. 26 And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.

    Being good is not by merely what we do, but how much we are like Jesus who is God.

The following devotional comes from Zondervan

KEY QUESTION: What does it mean to do the right thing in my relationships?

Jesus not only showed his followers how to be good and kind to others, but he also left us instructions that are both practical and radical.

If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. (Luke 6:32-36)

Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else. (1 Thessalonians 5:15)

I choose to be kind and good in my relationships with others.

KEY APPLICATION: What difference does this make in the way I live?
Out of a pure heart to do the right thing for others, we seek to build others up.
Every morning, we ask God to give us opportunities to take the good he is depositing in our hearts and give it away to others. We approach every day on the lookout to encourage others. In every conversation and encounter, we try to do something or say something kind, because it builds people up. In Christ, we have a bank account with unlimited kindness, and we seek to bless others by giving it away.

Out of a pure heart to do the right thing for others, we do not pay back wrong for wrong.

Out of a pure heart to do the right thing for others, we do the hard thing out of love.


Look around you. Where in your life do you see evidence of the kindness of God?


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