If God isn’t Real, will you still try to be Good?

The Bible tells me to be good and Holy. But what if I don’t believe in God, will I still try to be good?

If I don’t believe in God I can have several reasons to be a good person:

One, being good is good enough in itself. However, I know from experience and from observing many people from different cultures that being good is impossible. Don’t misunderstand me, a person can do good acts, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that such a person is good. For sure, that person will fall short soon in many areas of life. I am not aiming for perfection, but being good means being consistent in his good ways.

Two, being good is great even without its rewards. To be a good person selflessly is a very good thought. However, again this is false. Being good basically means embracing suffering and pain. If suffering and pain are the only things you will get from trying to be good, then why pursue it? No way, if there’s no reward! Looking for a reward is a source of hope in the times of sufferings!

Third, being good attracts good relationships. Love begets love, and this is great incentive. However, even the most satisfying human relationships will never satisfy a human heart. This has been proven again and again. Our hearts is designed for something bigger.

What then, now? Being good is good only if there’s God who is living, loving, and Himself quite Good, or Holy. And that Only God has a Name, His Name is Jehovah, or Yahweh, or Jesus.

Going back to the reasons above, only God can meet the challenges for us to be good:

One, only God can give a person a good heart. The human heart is so corrupt only God can change it.

Genesis 6:5 (KJV) And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

Jeremiah 17:9 (KJV) The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

Jeremiah 31:33 (KJV) But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.

So, without God, it is impossible for a person to be good. Very imposible

Two, God gives eternal rewards to those who try to be good. It is God’s Character to reward. And these rewards do not negate the virtue of good deeds, but rather validate their goodness before God, indicating that God values goodness highly.

Ruth 2:12 (KJV) The LORD recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust.

Psalms 18:20 (KJV) The LORD rewarded me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands hath he recompensed me.

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 (KJV) Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.

Third, only a relationship with God a man can be satisfied. Human relationships will never be enough, only in God there’s lasting happiness and peace.

Psalms 27:9-10 (KJV) Hide not thy face far from me; put not thy servant away in anger: thou hast been my help; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation. When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up.

Psalms 16:11 (KJV) Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

I affirm therefore with the Apostle Paul that if I do not hope in anything else in the after life for doing good and for being righteous, then I am to be pitied most among all else.

1 Corinthians 15:17-20 (KJV) And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.

If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.

So, I try to live a pleasing life to God because I have this hope of being resurrected and being totally one in Christ Jesus. Amen, Lord Jesus, come quickly!

Let the Life be Pruned for Service

‘A holy minister is an awesome weapon in the hand of God.’

Pruning isn’t easy – and always painful!

I really like that old saying by the late Robert McCheyne. He only lived a short life of 29 years, but the fruits of his service were beyond his age, thanks to his life that is wholly (and holy) devoted to God.

I am afraid that I observe the Church today emphasizing skills over character, the mind and the hands over the heart, the talk over the walk for the qualification for service. Of course, skills and the mind are not just important in the ministry, they are essential. But if we understand the Bible right, it would be accurate to say that God requires first holiness and godliness as essential criterion for service, over the importance of skills and abilities.

(2 Tim 2:20-21) But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour.  If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.

These words from Paul pertain primarily to the ministry of a pastor, as a personal exhortation given to Timothy. But the principle is very applicable to every area of the ministry, whatever it may be: If God would use a Christian for service powerfully, then He would be looking first at the quality of the Christian Life. It is Christlikeness first that matters, secondary only is the outward competency.

The church today is weak in emphasizing this truth. Let me give some observations:

  1. Holiness is rarely preached today. But much is given to blessings. Obedience is preached, but only often in relation to blessings. Obedience as an outcome of a holy life is very seldom preached.
  2. We scout for possible workers/leaders in terms only of abilities. We are easily attracted to good singing voice, good communicators, brilliant ideas, and so on – not in themselves bad, but become very futile if we neglect the much more important side of holiness.
  3. We are hesitant to discipline and/or replace erring leaders/workers. I am not for the trashing of erring people – everyone isn’t perfect. But the problem is that as we are so eager to put talented individuals to service, so are we so weak in disciplining our leaders/workers whose lives are not worthy to be followed. We have adapted the spirit that we are afraid to lose the machinery (and the tithes) of our church, to the point of compromising and sacrificing the integrity and testimony of the church.

Much could still be said in this issue. This is often overlooked but requires immediate consideration and action. To some extent, if the church will not put emphasis on the holiness of her leaders and workers, then inevitably she is welcoming sin to lurk in the corners of the church, destroying her little by little.

Survey the pastoral epistles (Titus, 1 & 2 Timothy), the teachings of Jesus in the Gospels, and we will easily see that God puts character first in the lives of his servants, before anything else.