“Are you a good man or a righteous man?” This is the question that kept echoing in my head as I journeyed to work this morning.
This morning on my way to work I was forced to listen to two lovely men argue over how good they were. What led to this argument? One stepped on the other and couldn’t say “sorry”. Out of anger the being stepped on replied, “if not that I am a good man, I would have shown you the other side of me. And that led to a heated argument that left many speechless. It wasn’t even 6: AM and these men have the strength for this.
The supposed good man kept talking about how he keeps the laws of the land, how he obeys rules and regulations and how everyone sees and tells him, “you are a good man”. The one that stepped on him couldn’t just allow himself to be talked down, he also started talking about how good he is, how he goes to church every Sunday, how he pays his tithe, and so on. If he is this good, why couldn’t he just say sorry?
As they argued with a loud voice and in anger, it struck me, “How good can we really be? How good are we before God?” “Can our goodness get us into the kingdom of God. You see, whether we like it or not, there is a life after, here on earth and we all will give an account of what we did while here on earth. What will our defence be when we stand before the throne of God and our names are not found in the book of life? Would we be justified by being good or by being righteous?
One of the beauties of entering public buses in Lagos, Nigeria is that you not only learn how to speak compulsory Yoruba slang “owa” (which means “E dey” in pidgin English, and I’m here in English), learn how to drag your change with conductor, test your running skills when you have to chase the conductor for your change or fight him, you also learn vital lessons of life. It’s not always boring on a public bus and it’s not always dangerous either. But there are days, you wish the government would sanction the bus drivers and their conductors. One can only hope it happens someday.
This morning was one of those days that I thank God I was on that bus. It was a simple case of saying sorry and everything done wrong will be forgotten, but not one of the men was willing to say that, and I still ask, “How good are we when push comes to shove?” By all standard of men, a good man is one who obeys the rules and regulations of the federal, state and local governments. He pays his tax fees as at when due, he doesn’t violate any traffic regulations, doesn’t fight any officials, he gives humanitarian aids to desolate and victimized persons, etc
That same good man as seen by men, behind closed doors could be a drug addict, a rapist, an adulterer, a murderer, a psychopath, a thief, a wife beater. No one gets to see this dark part because he keeps it as privately as he can or better yet, he hasn’t been caught in the act yet. Does any of his good attribute make him a righteous man?
A righteous man is one who believes and keeps the laws of God. In the open and in secret, he has the fear of God attached to whatever he does. When you are righteous, it becomes easy to be good, but when you are good, it isn’t always easy to be righteous. Being good requires immediate human gratification to a large extent. It’s a natural human pleasure to want to be praised for doing good and want it now. A lot of times its no fun at all waiting for something we want, Humans don’t like to wait. And to be honest, animals are not excluded.
While instant goodness gratification may be convenient, I must warn that it takes away the true meaning of being good. It also takes away a long-standing human virtue which is the ability to wait. And there ain’t nothing wrong with waiting for something, patience still remains a virtue, right? There is always the need to do this to please someone or to do that to get something from that person. It’s not always easy to be genuinely good. Yes, there are people who are genuinely good with no ulterior motives, but they are very few.
In our world now where everyone lives like they’ve got a medal to the pedal, one can’t help but question the genuineness of anyone. Trust has been so overrated and no one blindly trusts anyone anymore. People don’t even trust themselves to say the least. The scriptures show us that the men that were counted righteous by God were men that kept the laws of God as they obeyed the rules of the land that didn’t require them compromising their faith.
They had numerous weaknesses but chose to show their strengths by obeying the Lord God and that gained them a place in the kingdom of God. Nicodemus was an upright man in the eyes of men. He was obedient and never had a track record of wrong deeds, a Pharisee and a member of the Jewish high court called the Sanhedrin. Wanting to learn more, he visits Jesus after dark, probably he fears his reputation with the other Jewish leaders will be damaged if he is seen.
Yet when he came to Jesus Christ to inquire about what to do to get eternal life, he was asked to become a born again. That sounded so hard because it requires him to do away with the things that were considered good by men. This act still and will continue to strive in our world today. Many of us are comfortable being good as long as the goodness is seen by the world and gratified immediately but quickly hide or shy away from God and his people for fear of being laughed at, or a called Jesus freak.
Understand this, being good is a beautiful thing. There are rewards that come with keeping the laws of the land, rules and regulations, but can your goodness get you a place in the kingdom of God. If you’re going to be good outside, ensure you’re also good before God and behind closed doors. You can be good and still have envy, strife, hatred, jealousy, bitterness, and all manner of vices in you, thereby making goodness subjective. On the other hand, you can’t be righteous and have the aforementioned vices in you and be comfortable. The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord….Psalm 37:23-24.
You will find yourself striving to live for God and doing what will please him. You become dominated with the Holy Spirit. And where the Spirit of God is, there is joy, peace, happiness, contentment, overflowing of grace, fulfilment, liberty, freedom. As we go about our daily lives, let’s endeavour to be genuinely good and righteous before God.
Ezra Taft Benson- “You cannot do wrong and feel right. It’s impossible!”
Albert Einstein- “True religion is real living, living with all one’s soul, with all one’s goodness and righteousness”
Blessings and Love
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