The dangers of teaching people to be good

Posted by Matt Lane on March 20th, 2017 filed in Bible, Christian Living, Church, Faith

I don’t know about you but I want my kids to be good kids. I want them to be nice to their classmates and respect their teachers. I hope they grow up to be generous, thoughtful and loving adults. The world could use a lot more people that showed love to each other and genuinely took care of each other.

But as a Christian, those things can’t be the goal. God’s call to use is not chiefly about doing good things. No doubt as I love God and treasure Jesus as my savior, I will be compelled to love my neighbor as myself. At the bottom of my joy though has to be God. Not the feeling I get for helping someone. Not the return I’ll get as I donate money and receive the tax write off. Not knowing I’ve made the world a better place. Not that I think God will be pleased with me. Rather my good works must always originate and end in giving God the glory and bringing fame to Jesus.

Most of us are familiar with and the great commandment. Jesus says to love God and then love others. There is an order here and it’s supremely important. Doing the reverse puts everything on it’s head and is not loving.

If we teach people to just love others, we’ll feel good for sure. Others will benefit and the world will be a better place. But it’s not loving to do good works in the name of ourselves. Loving people without the intent of giving God all the glory robs God and that’s not loving. It’s sinful actually. It builds ourselves up instead of God. People need to hear the gospel and be shaped and formed by the good news of Jesus Christ first and foremost.  This is not a one time event of being shaped. It is a lifetime of molding. It’s true that if the pendulum swings to all social justice without the gospel, we are not loving our neighbor as ourselves. But conversely if we are not at all concerned with social justice then we have completely missed out on the good news that is meant for the nations and we are also not loving our neighbors.

Works in the name of ourselves will lead good people to hell. Works in the name of Jesus who is the Lamb of God, the Alpha and Omega, the Great High Priest, the Good Shepherd, and the King of Kings will lead sinners to drink from the living water.

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“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

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