Notebook with "am I good enough?" written on it

Being Good Isn’t Good Enough

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NBC currently has a show called The Good Place, which is about the afterlife and whether a zany cast of characters end up in the “good place” or the “bad place”.

I watched an episode recently where a character discovered what he had to do in order to get to the good place: serve others selflessly. What sounds like a good plan to make the world a better place ended up being his own personal Hell. His entire focus was on doing everything for everyone else at the expense of himself, including letting himself be taken advantage of over and over again.

While some of the things he did were good things, the motivation, at the end of the day, was wrong. He wasn’t doing nice or kind things for others or the environment out of the goodness of his heart but out of a clear desire to get into the good place and avoid the bad place.

My heart broke as he shared his life philosophy because it’s one that’s shared by so many. There’s a belief that if we just do enough good things then we’ll end up in a good place. But there’s so much more to life than that.

The truth is that we could never do enough good because we’re sinful by nature. We could never dig ourselves out of the hole that our actions and decisions made for us. That’s why Jesus had to come to earth and die in our place–we’re hopeless without him.

What a relief!

We don’t have to live like that character, constantly worried if he’ll accumulate enough points to get into the good place. Instead, we can simply rest in what Jesus did.

A lot of the time I fight against this way of living and I want to do and earn and achieve but that’s not what life is about. I’m learning that it’s so much more satisfying to rest in the freedom that he’s provided for us. I can’t work my way into the good place, but I can trust in the relationship with Jesus.

He went first, all I have to do is respond to his unending love–and what wonderful news that is.

Do you ever fall into the trap of believing you can be “good enough”?

How do you practically rest in Jesus daily?

To go Deeper: Read Learning to Lie Down, Give me the Syllabus


  1. I’m reminded of a sermon by a pastor who has done much end-of-life ministry… how so many people express their doubts and uncertain hopes in phrases like, “Well, I just hope when I get to the pearly gates, that my good outweighs my bad.” This is talking about people who have lived their whole lives going to church and hearing the Gospel. Somehow, we can go years and decades hearing the good news and yet never actually hear or comprehend it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. For years, I was exactly like those people. Though I was in church, I thought that getting into heaven was the goal and that I got there based solely on what I did. I’m so immensely thankful for the revelation of grace.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s so sad that’s the case, when we think we’re really communicating and people are really grasping the meaning of the Gospel and the grace of God.
        Small groups and discipleship are great for so many reasons but this is one of them: in the intimate setting of one-on-one or a few close friends, you can find out what people really believe instead of the persona we all project.

        Liked by 1 person

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