I'm already a
good person,
O.K?
 
That's great. The world definitely needs good people. Hard-working, patient, conscientious, scrupulously honest, altruistic, caring, giving, humble, forgiving, loving, self-disciplined, compassionate individuals with impeccable morals are hard to find, to be sure.

Hmmm... could it be that after reading this description you said to yourself, "Well, maybe I'm not a ten on every one of those, but still..."? Let's face it, goodness is a relative term when it comes to human beings, isn't it?

Think for a moment how you would rate yourself on a scale of one to ten, with ten being a veritable saint, and one being an execrable scoundrel. Got a number in mind? Now imagine if everyone who knows you were to rate you also. Would their average rating be higher or lower than your number? "Yeah, well, Susan's going to mark me down because of that incident last summer, and my brother is such a great guy that I suppose my family will all put me down a notch or two from him, but..." Yes, goodness is a relative term.

Wherever you actually are on this imagined scale, if you agree with the title of this page, one thing is evident: It is important to you to be able to say you are a good person. There is nothing wrong with this, of course. To the contrary, you are to be commended for placing importance on fine character. And while it's almost certainly true that most people started out with similar values early in life, unfortunately many eventually give up on being a good person. So your having maintained this standing definitely sets you apart.

But aside from making you and some, if not all of those around you feel better, what is your goodness really worth? Where will it take you? What about at the end of your life? Besides all the positive things people will be able to honestly say about you at your funeral, is there any eternal benefit to being good?

In other words, do good people go to Heaven? And if so, how is it decided who's really good? Since we know it's a relative term, do they do some kind of rating based on a ratio of your goodness against some of the less-than-impressive aspects of your character? Or is it based on actions? You know, where they add up all the good and bad things you've done in life and whichever number is higher dictates where you'll spend eternity... Is that how it works?

Surveys have revealed that the vast majority of people do indeed believe that being "good" and doing more good than bad in one's life is what it takes to enter Heaven.

Unfortunately, they're wrong. Dead wrong.

There will be people who you might rate at around 9.77, yet they won't make it. And others, assigned a rating of 0.34 by those who wished they never knew them, will nevertheless make it safely within the gates.

How can this be? What kind of nonsense is this? It's not nonsense, it's the truth. No, we're not saying bad people go to Heaven, and good people don't. The reality is that it isn't based on averages, ratios, or anything of the sort. Nor is it based on apparent goodness or upon a significant history of badness. The truth is that there is only one Door that leads to Heaven. And the only goodness that will allow a person to enter there will be His within us, not our own. It doesn't matter if this true goodness was in our hearts for the last ninety minutes or the last ninety years of our lives. So long as it's there, and our names are in His book when we cross over, all will be well.

So whether today finds you rated by your society a good or a bad person, make sure before you leave this realm that you've got what it's really going to take.