Be a good human. It’s a phrase I often see emblazoned on bumper stickers and T-shirts, children’s nursery walls, and social media posts. Be a good human.
What does that even mean? To smile at people in the store, pick up trash, donate time and money to worthy causes, help someone with a flat tire? To use good manners or to not judge others? Just be kind? Or perhaps you think in more spiritual terms—pray, go to church, tithe, tell others about Jesus.
I think we’d all be okay with those displays of humanity. But is that really what it means to “be good”? As much as we want those things for family, neighbors, friends, and ourselves, we often fall short of those aspirations. Goodness just isn’t something that comes naturally to humans. It’s been our struggle since the fall—even if we want to do good, we often find ourselves missing the goal. The sin nature has destroyed our best-laid plans.
To get a glimpse of what it really means to be good, we can peer into the garden. After God created everything, He declared it all, including the humans, “very good” (Genesis 1:31). Had Adam and Eve even taken a step yet? Were they already living according to God’s creation design, displaying His character, exhibiting His holiness in everything they did? Or did God declare them good simply because He created them in His own image—and He is good.
God reminds us later in Scripture that our perception of good is sometimes different from His definition of good (Isaiah 5:20-21). Many of the things He calls good, humans call bad, and vice versa. God doesn’t always applaud the things that humans value. The bottom line, though, is that He gets to define good.
Goodness is God’s very nature. His goodness is often displayed in His love for us, even when we least deserve it. In this month’s feature article, ICR founder Dr. Henry M. Morris points out how love is “at the very heart of the personality of God” (“Reason and the Christian Hope”). “The creation of humanity is intimately connected with God’s nature of love….Humanity’s chief purpose, then, is to love and to be loved by God.”
He created us to display His image, to reflect His goodness by loving Him and others. And in spite of the fall, we have the opportunity to walk in His goodness by His grace. Because our Creator became a good human, lived a perfect life, and died as the sacrifice for our sin, we can experience the goodness of God for eternity. When we invite Him into our lives, He lives in us and grants us continual access to Him, to enjoy His goodness and love as well as offer it to others.
Dr. Morris says, “When someone rightly views his own lost condition but then sees God going to such lengths to save him, his whole being must surely be changed….He must come to love the things God loves and hate the sin that separated him from God.” The apostle Paul described this change as becoming a “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Being transformed by Christ—Jesus living in us—is the only way we can truly “be a good human.”
* Jayme Durant is Director of Communications at the Institute for Creation Research.