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Friday, April 07, 2017

Sub Standards

"Here's what I do," he told me. "I know I'm not perfect. I know I do a lot of bad things. So what I aim for is to do more good things than bad. I try to do good things to make up for the bad. I know I hurt people when I was younger, so I try to help people now. That kind of thing."

It was a conversation with a coworker. I don't actually know where it came from. He gave me his "road to salvation" out of the blue. "Make my good outweigh my bad." I suppose it's fairly common. He's not alone in it, I'm sure. And I'm still puzzling over it.

How do you know? A business hires bookkeepers to keep track of outlay and income because accounting is essential. I was taught to balance a checkbook because accounting is essential. But in this arrangement they're just winging it. No way of knowing how much bad or good has been done. Just hope for the best, I suppose.

What is good? Or bad? They're not tracking good or bad, and they're aiming to do more good than bad, but how is "good" and "bad" defined? By what standard is this "good" and that "bad"? "How I feel", I suppose.

Infinite variability is a problem. Not knowing how much bad has been done means you can't know how much good is required to "balance the books", so to speak. Not knowing what is good or bad simply multiplies that problem. Factor in the changing feelings of what constitutes good and bad and it becomes an absolute impossibility. "Well, I thought this was bad before, but now I think it's good. And I know that is bad, but it doesn't deter me in the least from doing it anyway. Must be okay."

I don't really see how any of this provides comfort to the bearer of this standard, such as it is. If your standard is, of whatever sort, "whatever I make it to be", you're on some very thin ice. We have to go by the standards of the One who is perfect (Matt 5:48). Anything else is perilous. And, of course, that standard means we're all in need of a Savior.

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