We’re not good enough. On a scale of 1 to 10, of evil to good, of wrong to right, we can place ourselves anywhere on the line, but God’s word tells us that we still fall short. We’re never righteous enough. We’ll never reach the top of the scale, the line that says perfection.
Romans tells us: “Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin. But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify.
“This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”
The good news is that Christ comes in and fills in the gap for us. He gives us grace so we don’t have to be perfect. Because of his mercy, we don’t have to have a perfect Christian story.
Paul’s words in Romans remind us of a few things. They remind us that good deeds and works are not enough for perfection, but they also remind us that if righteousness is meant for the glory of God.
If you’re caught up in just doing good deeds, then know that you’ll never achieve righteousness. If you’re stuck in the fact that righteousness is never attainable, then know that God loves us anyway.
What Does the Bible Say?
The bible is filled with stories— beautiful stories of men and women who follow God, but it’s also filled with stories of men and women who are broken and who didn’t do righteous things and who didn’t live righteous lives.
Abraham, who God promised many descendants and land, had a child with his wife’s handmaiden. King David committed adultery with Bathsheba. Paul, the apostle, murdered and persecuted Christians. Peter, the founder of the church, denied Jesus three times.
These were men that were supposed to be great men of God, but they made mistakes too. These men we read stories about fell short too, and we should take comfort that even if they fell short on the scale, then we can too.
What’s important is their response. Their response was an understanding of their shortfall. David says in Psalm 51:7-9, “Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity.”
If righteousness could be attained by anyone, it would be men mentioned in the bible, but it’s not. Instead, we get stories of broken men who understand that they need Christ.
Too often we want our stories to be perfect, so we don’t tell our story. We don’t let others know what’s going on, and we certainly aren’t praying over it. Maybe we do the good deeds. We let people in lanes in traffic. We check in on people. We give money to charities. We say nice things. But we are caught up in other things. We are lost in our marriage. We neglect our children. Whatever the shortfall, we think we can’t make it up.
And we can’t.
But we stop there. We put ourselves on the scale of bad to good on the side closer to bad, and we stop there.
We don’t take our shortfall to our biblical community or church. Instead of praying over that shortfall, we fall into a depression that we’re not “good enough.” We get stuck in the idea that we are “not enough.”
The Good News
If we stop at the point where we just see ourselves as unworthy, we’re going to get stuck there. Instead, we need to remember the words of David and the other men who cried out to God in their shortfall.
Paul says in 1 Timothy, “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength to do his work. He considered me trustworthy and appointed me to serve him, even though I used to blaspheme the name of Christ. In my insolence, I persecuted his people. But God had mercy on me because I did it in ignorance and unbelief.”
We need to learn to say, “I’m not righteous enough, and I need you Jesus.” That was the prayer of those men. They hoped in that, and so should we.
We can work to share God’s word, to bless others and to have faith, but we still can’t earn perfection. That doesn’t mean we should stop pursuing those Godly qualities, but it does mean we should learn to rely on God for filling in our gaps and giving us grace for our shortfalls.
It’s true.We’ll never be good enough. We’ll never reach the top of the scale— no biblical figure did (except Christ himself). Mother Teresa didn’t even reach the pinnacle of the scale, but that doesn’t mean we stop pursuing God or give up on Christianity. It also doesn’t mean we retreat into ourselves and stop telling our story. It doesn’t mean we close ourselves off to our biblical community or biblical friends.
Instead, it means understanding that pursuing God is a journey. It means we keep walking with God and pursuing Godly qualities even though it’s hard. It means letting people know what we are dealing with and letting people pray with us. It means asking God to come in and save us from the scale of evil to good.
“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39