Good Versus Evil
“No one is good—except God alone.”
Mark 10:18 (NIV)
“If a person does more good things than bad things in their life,” my son mused, “then their life is still worthwhile in the world.”
Poor babe, he didn’t realise he was starting a long and heavy discussion on the unpredictable ripple effects of good and bad deeds… the relative merits of the balance-scale model of vice and virtue versus the rotten-apple-in-a-barrel model…and what exactly constitutes a good deed anyway.
Oddly enough, with our inherited shares in the knowledge of good and evil, we will all confidently say what’s bad, but how can we tell what is good? In a fallen world, even the most well-intentioned deed, e.g. giving someone a large sum of money, discovering efficient nuclear power, or even inventing the internet, may not turn out to be an unqualified boon to humanity. Maybe strict observance and administration of moral codes is the nearest we can come to good deeds? The Pharisees mistakenly thought so (Matthew 5:20), while the sort of deeds that impressed Jesus looked insignificant (Luke 21:1-4 the widow’s mite) or downright wrong (Matthew 26:7-9 woman anoints Jesus’ feet with expensive perfume) to the rest of us.
I listened to a sermon in which the minister asked how many of the congregation had done a good deed that day. Not a single hand went up. Either we are a depraved bunch indeed, or we feel unable to call our own actions. Strangely, in his story of future judgement, Jesus portrays everyone as being surprised at how their deeds or omissions were assessed (Matthew 25:37-44). They couldn’t call their own actions either.
We can submit our motives to God, praying for his guidance and trusting in his goodness, as we do what lies within our abilities and influence. That trust in God, an ongoing response to his righteousness, is called faith in Hebrews 11. There, in Hebrews 11, is the biggest good-deeds list in the Bible.
Good Master, what do you want me to do?
Study by Fiona Jones
Worldwide Church of God Perth
Combination of house churches and monthly outreach service and lunch
Gillespie Centre, Dunfermline, fortnightly
House churches on other Saturdays