If I live focused only to be better personally, then who is the focus of my life?
However, if you live to share with others about the goodness of God, who is the focus of your life?
God and others.
The former approach is what I would suggest is living to be “good FOR God.” The latter approach is what I would suggest is a living to “go WITH God” approach. I want to suggest that Jesus intended the latter for His followers.
Two reasons why I want to suggest this.
(1) because Jesus said so.
21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” [John 20:21, HCSB]
He is sending us to follow Him. To go WITH Him. Not just to do stuff for Him. He said in Matthew 28:18-20 that He would be WITH us always.
(2) because Jesus avoided the compliment “good,” which might be an indication that I should, too.
18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. [Mark 10:18, NASB]
Get honest with yourself. Do you study the Scriptures for nourishment for daily mission or for information for self-development. The rich young ruler in this passage seemed clearly to be looking for another reason to consider Himself good, to feel personally fulfilled with his accomplishments. Jesus did not live to that end, and He rebuked the rich young ruler with His very to-the-point response.
Jesus did not end the day hoping to feel good about Himself or His efforts. He did not practice religion for personal goodness. He lived to glorify His Father in heaven, period. Attention to His own works He considered a distraction from the work of His Father.
54 “If I glorify Myself,” Jesus answered, “My glory is nothing.” [John 8:54, HCSB]
10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me? The words I speak to you I do not speak on My own. The Father who lives in Me does His works. [John 14:10, HCSB]
I personally need to beg HIm to keep making that same heart and desire present in me, that I would want to make His goodness known and His goodness only.
Please understand what I am suggesting here. It is absolutely true that each of us needs to grow. It is absolutely accurate that we each will always need to be shaped into what Jesus intended. However, the purpose of our further holiness is not so as to be holy, but rather so as to show others a holy, loving, gracious, near God. A focus on personal goodness is a focus off of mission, for my pursuits are not to be centered in personal gain but rather in the interests of others.
3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. [Philippians 2:3-4, NASB]
So, what you do with that “salt and light” verse about our good works (Matthew 5:13-16)?
In the same way, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. [Matthew 5:16, HCSB]
You obey it. That’s what you do. It’s not about my personal goodness on display. It’s about my Father’s goodness on display in me. That’s the only thing it can mean if it has anything to do with His glory on display.
May we go preserve His presence and bring out the flavors of His presence right in the midst of this very how-could-God-even-be-present world by sharing His life given to us and His goodness proven together through us.
May we quit trying to just be good FOR God and actually daily go WITH God on mission to share this Gospel about a God who desires to be WITH us with a world who so often struggles to believe that the God who came near could possibly still be near today.
If we will, then we will be that much closer to actually making disciples.
Hoping these five suggested shifts this week have encouraged you and challenged you. Most of all, hoping they will move us toward actually making disciples.
Who are you currently learning and living the ways of Jesus with? Are they lost? Are they found? Hopefully both.
Go, therefore, and make disciples…