You can be good for the wrong reasons

It is good to be a good person, but it is never enough for several reasons.

Am I good to everyone equally, or I am better to those whom I love, or whom I care about, or whom I fear can harm me if I am not good to them?

Am I good to the rich and powerful and bad to the poor?

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) set two standards for a person being good. A person must be good with their spouse, and must be good with their neighbors. The Quran says that a good person is one who is good with their parents when one or both attain old age.

Am I good because of goodness or for another reason — such as greed, fear, fame, etc.?

Am I good on a reciprocal basis, or I am always good with everyone? Because God likes me to be good even if the other person is not nice with me. My love for God requires that I should be nice and caring with all His creation.

And finally, if I am good and I fulfill all of the above conditions, am I proudly satisfied — or humble and thankful to God?

A truly good person is always humble and thankful to God for the blessing of being a good person. When a person gets close to the light (God), the spots and marks of weaknesses become obvious. This makes a person more concerned and more humble, with no room for arrogance.

— Muhammad Haq, Anniston Islamic Center

That’s not the right question to ask

Whenever I hear this question or questions like it, my initial response is another question: “Enough for what?”

 Often the meaning of this sort of question is along the lines of “Is being a good person enough to go to heaven/not go to hell?” Honestly, as a Christian, I think these sorts of questions miss the point of Jesus’ teachings, life, death and resurrection.

What I mean is this: The whole point of the Christian tradition/faith/religion (and arguably, nearly every other religion in the world) is not about where you wind up after you die. For Jesus, the whole thing boils down to two truths: loving God and each other.

Is being a good person enough? No. Because when you ask the question, you’re showing what is ultimately most important to you. Even if one could be an absolutely perfect person, if she/he does so in order to achieve something, in order to get whatever “enough” is, then she/he has already missed the point.

You see, I’m convinced that Jesus showed us a way beyond the selfish trappings of our constructed religions, a way that shows to us that any goal that is ultimately self-serving, self-preserving, self-oriented is an unworthy goal.

I mean, Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind … You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Both of these “commandments” are self-emptying, self-less commandments.

So if you want to know what’s “enough,” I think Jesus says it pretty directly: “Love God and each other.” I hope I can do that more today and in the days to come.

— Chris Thomas, First Baptist Church of Williams, Jacksonville