You Can’t Be Nice Enough
Bible Reading: John 3:1-8
I assure you, unless you are born again, you can never see the Kingdom of God. John 3:3
See if you can recognize these two guys from the Bible. One guy is getting slammed, and another is doing the slamming. Who are they?
“Hey, I might not be the greatest human being in the world, but I’m not as bad as him! I could tell you stories about this guy. We grew up in the same neighborhood, so I know enough about him. He was always cocky and arrogant; I kept my mouth shut most of the time. He had a police record; I always cooperated with the authorities. Once he even attacked the high priest’s servant!”
Have you figured it out? Let’s let him finish:
“Like I said, I might not be a saint or anything, but I’ll tell you one thing: My name is Judas Iscariot, and I’m not as bad as Simon Peter!”
The Bible doesn’t tell us that Judas used those exact words to try to make himself look good, but everything he says above is true. You probably know that Judas betrayed Jesus. Peter denied Jesus. But Peter repented of his sin, received Jesus’ forgiveness, and became one of the greatest leaders the church has ever known.
The words we put in Judas’s mouth sound the way some people try to make their bad behavior seem not so bad:
• “Yeah, I swear sometimes, but I don’t swear as much as so-and-so.”
• “I gossip, but I don’t stab people in the back like she does.””
Making others look bad doesn’t make our own faults any better. And this is really important: That isn’t how God looks at us when he decides who will enter heaven and live with him for eternity. God doesn’t compare Janna to Taylor and decide, “Well, Janna, you weren’t quite as bad as Taylor, so come on into heaven. Sorry, Taylor, you didn’t do as well as others. You lose.”
Jesus explained all this to a man named Nicodemus. Here was a guy who did, said, and believed all the right things. Jesus didn’t say to him, “Hey, Nick, you’re a better person than anyone else. You’ll make it to heaven!” Jesus simply said, “I assure you, unless you are born again, you can never see the Kingdom of God” (John 3:3).
When it comes to spending eternity in heaven, being nicer doesn’t get you in. The only thing that matters, according to Jesus, is that you have accepted God’s free gift of salvation!
TALK: How would you explain to a non-Christian friend that God doesn’t let us into heaven because of how good we’ve been? How do we get in?
PRAY: Lord, we don’t claim to be better than other people. Thanks that Jesus died to bring us close to you.
ACT: Who around you needs to know that salvation is a free gift? Make a plan to share that good news!