The Dangers of Believing in Your Own Goodness

I outran Covid for 2.5 years and it finally caught me in the 7th month of the year 2022 AD! It was a good run, but do you know what it has taught me?

No matter what good you do, what rules you follow, how much you wash your hands (of germs or of ppl), when it’s your time, and for whatever God’s reasoning, you’re going to get called in! And it may have nothing to do with your deeds—good, bad, or ugly. Y’all probably figured out I’m not really talking about Covid anymore…

There is a great danger in believing in your own goodness. You may have heard me mention this in previous posts, but I’d like to expound.

Proverbs 21:2 says, “A person may think their own ways are right, but the Lord weighs the heart.” Ultimately, it is God’s search of our hearts, coupled with the acts our hearts lead us to do, which determine our Goodness (or lack thereof). Goodness is one segment of the Fruit of the Spirit (I share more below, but you can read about it in Galatians 5:22 & Ephesians 5:8, MSG version if you’re ‘bout it!)

Belief in your own goodness can make you a victim of life. Unresilient to circumstance, unforgiving, unresolved. It makes you untrusting, unloving, and unable to receive love that is actually quite present. You can no longer relate. It does so because you believe that your actions are always justified (which even if so are by the limits of human emotion and reason and are not always or often congruent with the world around you), and that the issue can never be within you. You become unteachable. When you are unteachable, you’ve stopped growing. Dead things don’t grow (not plants, not faith).

So what does believing in your own goodness look and sound like?

  • Putting anything or anyone above The Living God

  • Worshipping people: political or religious leaders, celebrities, family, relationships, friendships instead of seeing them as human and capable of human error or deserving of mercy or compassion

  • “I manifested _____ .” I did (or can do) it by myself (self-glorification)

  • Cancel Culture/Cyber bullying/Calling People Out (<–judgmental criticism)

  • Revenge

  • Everything is someone else’s fault (and I mean down to why YOU don’t have anymore toothpaste) This can either be a blatant disregard of accountability or a lack of awareness

  • Inability to accept help.

  • Needing to always be right or have the last word

  • Aversion to ppl (in general or specific groups of ppl (i.e. racism/sexism/classism)

  • Doing nothing. (Faith without works)

  • “This isn’t supposed to happen to me.”

  • Belief that if something bad happens to someone, it must have been deserved.

This is not a full list of course, but you get my drift. Believing in your own goodness doesn’t make you a bad person, nor does it mean you aren’t actually a good person. Good and bad are not even terms I like to use with regards to people, but that aside, the status of your heart as Proverbs lays bare, is measured by God. For those of us who have been convicted by the Holy Spirit and/or know the laws of God and what constitutes sin, we know that love, faith, and obedience are what God expects from us. But you don’t have to know God for Him to know you and have requirements of you as part of His creation. After all, Jesus died for us all. Your conscience is the voice of God as well, which convicts you and also makes you responsible for doing what is good.

So if you suffer from none, one, or all of the self-righteous thoughts or behaviors from the previous list, guess what that makes you? Human. But what the world needs less of is detached human behaviors and more actual goodness. And where does this goodness come from? Well…it does not come from self. It just can’t. If it was left to us entirely, us humans would’ve died out long ago! Some of you may be thinking, “We’re on our way to self destruction!” But let me tell you, it ain’t over until He says it is. And that’s the answer. Goodness, as described above, comes from a force greater than our human ways. It comes from cultivating a right relationship with our Creator, and understanding why we would ever have need of a Savior. Truly good people have God moving through them, no matter if its been gifted by the Holy Spirit, or one’s conscience. As truly good people, we begin to cultivate the Fruit of the Spirit: Love, Joy, Peace, Forebearance, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-control (Galations 5:22), and as a result of our restored relationship with God through our savior, our human relationships flourish, too.

I have definitely been someone who believed in my own goodness. I was “a manifestor” for a time thinking I was making it all happen, but then would struggle with asking for or accepting help (go figure lol). My personal relationships suffered a great deal. My issue was I “always” had good intentions (intent vs. impact) and tried my best to please everyone around me. I was a people pleaser. I prided myself in not doing things I’d needed to apologize for. Looking back, I can see that it must’ve been really hard, and understandably intimidating, to be around someone who seems like they have it all together and who never apologizes. Intentions mean nothing when people still feel hurt. And for me, just because I could do things on my own, didn’t mean I should (or even wanted to, for that matter). It would often just feel much easier to depend on myself than being disappointed by others. This didn’t give people the opportunity to show up for me, or lead. I was the strong friend, and a lot of people didn’t know how to support me, nor did they think I even needed it. All of this self-righteousness (much of which was learned in childhood, as is often the case) resulted in me getting my little feelings hurt (a lot) and hurting the feelings of the people I love. Aaaand two years after “doing things right” after the pandemic, I still got Covid. 😅
Outside of Christ, no human is perfect. And though we can never be perfect, we can begin living a life by His perfect example, today. First and foremost, as humans we are going to make mistakes, fall short, hurt each other (unintentionally and on purpose), and we are going to sin. I was watching Sea Beast on Netflix the other day and I love the line about how you can be a hero, and still be wrong. It happens. And there’s nothing bad about being wrong, it’s all in what you learn from it. The beauty of being a child of God is the redemption and second chances that are gifted.. The world might not want to see you overcome or stand up again, but it’s your birthright as a believer to do so! God doesn’t choose people who have it all together, who are always right and perfect. In fact, He uses the downtrodden, self-righteous, fearful or broken down sinners to bring His glory to the world because that is authentically who the world can relate to. He also uses the meek, mourners, and peacemakers to advance His Kingdom (see Matthew 5). We don’t need to be what the world wants us to be if we accept who God has called us to be, flaws and all!

If you have read this far, and feel moved, I would love to have you join me and some of my Youversion friends on July 18th on the Youversion Bible App, as we learn How Jesus kept His heart stayed on the Goodness of His mission in the face of temptation, hostility, and self-righteous humans. And how He followed through with His calling despite betrayal and seeing the ugliness of Humanity, because He understood the assignment: giving up His life would restore a right relationship with Our Heavenly Father, redeeming us of our past, present, and future sins, and gifting us the promise of an Eternal life through our faith!

When we realize that our salvation isn’t based on merit; that as humans, we could never earn God’s love because it is freely gifted to us through our faith and belief in Jesus Christ, the more peaceful, compassionate, and joy-filled our entire planet becomes! Click here to join me and find, restore, or strengthen your identity in Christ! It does not matter where you are on the journey, your presence is needed!

I love you all!

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