Be Better

As I entered the subway car in North York, Ontario, Canada, I saw an elderly lady with a cream handbag and on it marked in red "Be Better." I smiled immediately. As the underground train-ride in the subway car continued, I kept thinking about “Be Better.” That is a wonderful and positive declaration. People should always seek to "Be Better," I thought.

We should try to be better always in body, mind, soul, and life circumstances. But another thought came to me: "How can we be better when Jesus says only God is good?" And “better” is an improvement of “good.” The natural question that followed was: "In what sense should we understand this “good” of which Jesus speaks and the “better” everyone should seek after to be?"

We must re-visit in Scripture where Jesus said that "no one is good except God alone” and find out what Jesus meant by that 'good.' We read the following in Scripture regarding a rich young ruler who questioned Jesus about how we can inherit and have eternal life. The Bible says, “A ruler questioned [Jesus], saying, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone,” (Luke 18:18-19, NASB).

Now this man rightly called Jesus “good,” for Jesus is God. But in the Scripture is it clear that the man did not know who Jesus was. No wonder Jesus asked him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.” The Psalmist says, “I say to the Lord, ‘You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you,” (Psalm 16:2, ESV). Not only is God good; He does good. Here the Psalmist links them: “You are good and do good,” (Psalm 119:68, ESV). The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are good; do good; and create good.

Now God’s people are not good in themselves but become capable of doing good through the empowerment of God’s Holy Spirit and the presence of God in their lives through Jesus Christ. We are born sinful (Psalm 51:5); and we are all sinful by nature (Romans 3:23). But if we are “led by the Spirit” (Galatians 5:18), we will have in us “the fruit of the Spirit” such as “goodness” (Galations 5:22). And through Jesus Christ (Philippians 4:13) who is good we can do good things. We must “not grow weary of doing good,” (Galatians 6:9).

With respect to doing and being better, the prophet Samuel emphasized to King Saul that “To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.,” (1 Samuel 15:22, NIV). For sincerity and obedience were the prerequisite for worship that pleased God. To “Be Better” is more than merely doing more or doing greater sophisticated things.

One NIV Bible reference explains: “Was Samuel saying that sacrifice is unimportant? No. He was urging Saul to look at his reasons for making the sacrifice rather than at the sacrifice itself. A sacrifice was a ritual transaction between man and God that physically demonstrated a relationship between them. Religious ceremonies are empty unless they are performed with an attitude of love and obedience. ‘Being religious’ (going to church, serving on a committee, giving to charity, and tithing) is not enough if we do not act out of devotion and obedience to God.

In being better, we must seek an increased holiness by constancy or intimacy with God by regularly praying and doing godly actions. This then is the obedience level Christ desires of us. Jesus says, “If you love me, keep my commands,” (John 14:15). Being better physically is in the performance of regular exercises to maintain and improve health. It is wise to “Be Better” since every work of man will be brought into judgement, even every secret thing, whether it be good or bad (Ecclesiastes 12:14).