What it takes to be “a good man”

As we celebrated Fathers’ Day, most of us took a moment to recall our fathers. My father was like many – he had lots of good character qualities. And he had some areas of his life where he could have improved. Patience was not one of his strengths. That’s probably why I never became a fisherman. But one of the strengths my father had was that he was a good man.

Some time ago that phrase, “he’s a good man” entered my daughter’s vocabulary. She would talk about professors at college and say, “Dad – you’d really like him. He’s a good man.” One day she was talking about Jim Bell and she said, “He’s a good man.” Then it happened….

I was going to visit someone who was dying in the hospital and she said, “Dad – you’re a good man.” That was a Fathers’ Day present to me – and it wasn’t even Fathers’ Day.

I think that all of us have the desire to be thought of as good. We want people, when they look at us, to think of us as moral beings. We’ve a desire to be regarded as holy. Everyone feels this way.  Even atheists. I say that because I read a lot of atheistic material online. Repeatedly, the atheists writing try to portray a moral superiority. They want others to see them, not as unethical, but as more ethical than religious folks. Even atheists have a desire to appear holy. This desire to be thought of as good people is everywhere. It’s almost a good desire.

But there’s a huge difference between being thought of as a good person and simply being a good person. That difference is what Jesus is addressing in the text from which the attached sermon is from.