I'm a decent person - surely i'll be fine?
I bet in many ways you probably are quite decent. I bet you pay your taxes, have a good and honest job, give money to charity. You might even help old ladies over the road.
The thing is, most of us are pretty decent, reasonable and respectable people. But is that enough? Does that mean that God will welcome us into his perfect kingdom, and everything’s going to be fine?
Well worryingly, only if we judge by appearances.
You see I know, at least for myself, that underneath all the good things I do, there are some pretty unsavoury things—things like anger, jealousy, bitterness. Mixed in with all the good things are some things I’d like to keep under the surface, keep hidden, so that no one else can see.
And I’ve got a pretty good way of doing it. You see, what I like to do is compare myself to others, and it’s a game I’m sure we’ve all played. I might think: “Well, I might have had that row last night, but at least I didn’t do that.” Or: “Yeah, I might have said that to her, but at least I wasn’t there.”
The only way we can claim to be decent is if we compare ourselves to others. And the thing is, it works—because there’s always someone else worse than us, someone we can look at and say: “Yeah, I’m not perfect—but at least I’m doing a heck of a lot better than they are.”
If we were the judges, then I guess we’d be OK. If we were just judging by appearances, then maybe things will be fine.
But unfortunately, the Bible has another take on things. Jesus said that there’s nothing concealed that won’t be revealed; there’s nothing hidden that will not be shown; there’s nothing that’s said in the dark that won’t be revealed in the light; and there’s nothing whispered in private that won’t be shouted from the rooftops.
In other words, God sees and he hears all. Well you know what—that makes me a little less confident that I’ll be alright in the end.
You see the thing is, God is perfect, and heaven is perfect. Well it follows then, doesn’t it, that only perfect people will get in. And Jesus says therefore that we shouldn’t compare ourselves to others, but we should compare ourselves to God. “Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect,” he said.
And compared to God we all fall way short. You may be pretty decent in many ways, but you’re not perfect—and that’s what matters. So things aren’t going to be fine.
But is that it then? Is there no hope for people like you and me? Well thankfully, the Bible says something else.
You see, Jesus came to find those who were lost and needed help, and to bring them into heaven. Jesus said that he came to: “seek and save the lost.” Jesus came to give a place in heaven to those who knew they weren’t perfect, who knew they weren’t right, who know they need help.
You know, when I compare myself to God I know I’m not perfect—I know I don’t deserve to get to heaven. But that’s why knowing and loving Jesus is so important to me. He came and gave me something that I could never earn, something that I never would deserve. He came and gave me a place in heaven.
Now that’s what I call a “decent” result!