As Best I Can
December 26, 2018
“Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good…” (Matthew 19:17, NIV 1984).
He sat across me with a swelling on his arm, one-fifth the size it had been before. “You know you are a miracle, don’t you?” I asked. “Most people with your cancer would be in heaven now.”
“He doesn’t want to talk about heaven,” his wife answered for him.
“My brother is a preacher,” he said. “I don’t talk to him much. I’ve been good as best I can.”
“That won’t get you there,” his wife responded.
“If you love Jesus, that will get you there,” I suggested.
He changed the subject, and we finished our medical business. He really was miraculously improved.
Over and over again I hear my patients say, near the end of their lives, “Well, I’ve been good as best I can,” describing their hope for heaven. And most people I know are telling the truth about their efforts. They have sincerely tried to be good, though most aren’t that comfortable with how they measure up.
Good is a term that demands a measuring stick. Most of my patients actually do very well when the measuring stick is the rest of human kind. I’m right there with them. The problem comes when we confront the living God, as Isaiah did in the year that King Uzziah died.
When the true God comes as our measuring stick, there is no other response than that of Isaiah, “Woe to me!…I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty” (Isaiah 6:5, NIV 1984).
When we face this true measuring stick in our lives, this God who has created us to be like Him, there is no way to use the word good; there is no way to measure up. Only Christ can make it possible to stand in the presence of our King.