Are you a good person? Chances are, if we are asked that question, we would say we are. If you go to the Google and type in “quotes about being a good person,” you will get more quotes from famous and not so famous people about being a good person. Most say they are good people and that is all that matters.
But what makes a person good? What makes a person bad? How thin is that line between being good or bad?
An email I read recently introduced me to Yehiel Dinur. He was a Polish Jew that was at the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II. He was also a witness at the Nuremberg trials. He was once interviewed by Mike Wallace of 60 Minutes.
During the interview, Wallace asked Dinur about a clip from the 1961 trial of Adolf Eichmann. Eichmann was a former German Nazi SS officer who was one of the major organizers of the Holocaust and was involved with the concentration camps in Eastern Europe. He had escaped after the war to Argentina but was captured in 1960 by Mossad, Israel’s Intelligence Service. He was brought back to Israel for trial and Dinur would testify at that trial.
It had been 18 years since Dinur had seen Eichmann. As he was testifying, Dinur began to sob and would finally faint, collapsing to the floor. The trial would be placed in recess as those attending him would have a stretcher brought in so he could be removed from the courtroom. Eichmann would eventually be convicted and hung for his crimes in 1962.
Dinur would be asked if it was hatred, fear or the awful memories of Auschwitz that would cause him to collapse. It was none of these. So what overwhelmed him? Dinur would say that as he looked at Eichmann, he realized he was not the god-like army officer who had sent so many Jews to their deaths. He realized that Adolf Eichmann was just an “ordinary man.”
Wallace would then ask Dinur, “How is it possible for a man to act as Eichmann did? Was he a monster? A madman? Or was he perhaps something even more terrifying – was he normal?”
“Eichmann,” Dinur said, “is in all of us.”
The line between good and bad is razor thin. Being a good person can get us a long way in this world. But how often has one incident turned a seemingly good person into an incredibly bad person. I remember watching a TV show a few weeks ago about a man who killed seven people in South Carolina over a period of a couple of years. His Mom looked right at the camera and said she believed he was a “good” person. What? How can a good person kill seven people and show no remorse about it?
God’s Word tells us that we are not good people.
Good is the enemy of excellence. Good is a false cover over a pit of filth. Are you offended to think that there is an Adolf Eichmann in you? Are you offended that there is or are you offended that someone would think there is? The latter is vanity and the former conviction.
For whatever I think about myself or you might think about me, this I know; without Jesus I am no different than Adolf Eichmann. No, I have not led millions of Jews to their deaths but I have looked on others and thought them unworthy of the gospel. Is one worse than the other?
For many years “good” people justified slavery. William Wilberforce through the conviction of the gospel stood up to those good people and led the movement to abolish slavery in England.
The good people of Germany were swayed into supporting the Nazis.
“The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for enough good men to do nothing.”
– Edmund Burke.
The only thing needed to ensure an eternity separated from God is to think you are good enough. Jesus said that no one is good. Do you remember the first part of His encounter with the Rich Young Ruler?
“A certain ruler asked him, ‘Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ ‘Why do you call me good?’ Jesus answered. ‘No one is good – except God alone.’”
– Luke 18:18 & 19 (NIV).
Good may bring you fame, success and a great reputation. Good may bring you comfort and happiness. But our good to a Holy God isn’t good enough. The best “good” person in the world will end up in the same place as Adolf Eichmann if he doesn’t know Jesus as Lord and Savior.
How thin is the line between good and evil? It’s the width of the Cross.
ReadActMinisterPray and run to the Cross!