course the question is to challenge the perfection of the Lord God, in
this case Jesus the Christ. But this incident tells us so much more
about the nature of the Lord God.
take on the question? Whenever Trinity gets an opportunity to
bless/glorify/praise another One within Trinity, he/she does so. Jesus
the Christ was deferring praise and pointing to the Father as Good. His motive
was to glorify the Lord God the Father, and the results were
to teach the nature of goodness lies not in just
"doing." Motive and results must always be
ascertained to estimate the goodness, morality, ethicality or
righteousness of a given act.
In my case, I viewed this question as an example of ethical assessment
without examining motive, context, or the person(s) in question. We love
to say something is "good" or "bad" too often too
easily. Consider for example:
- Pre-marital sex is sinful. Consider
any unmarried woman, or child, who's been raped. It was
pre-marital. It was sex (assault of course), but it was
nonetheless "pre-marital." Ironically, even to
this day, we attribute such an act as "spoiling" the
victim. We do not cast negative attributions to victims of
muggings, theft or murder. Is it because down deep we blame the
victim, especially when it comes to sexual assault? We human
beings are an odd species.
- Giving to a holy cause is good. If
the motive is to engender the appreciation of others rather than
the Holy One, it is not only not automatically righteous, one
could argue the act is evil. The Christ declared such a person
"already has their reward." Yet we persist to
give too often for the wrong motives--IRS, guilt reduction,
praise. We human beings are an odd species.
- Drinking alcohol is always wrong. Yet,
we're taught to cause someone to "go astray" because
they associate alcohol consumption with unrighteousness makes
drinking alcohol, especially publicly, wrong/sinful/unethical/evil.
And what about getting drunk? Even when you've lost Mary Ellen?
Or, finally got out of the ark? Escaping reality is a
common human tendency, especially death. Even the Christ was led
into the wilderness to escape reality--40 days of health harming
isolation. We human beings are an odd species.
- Lying is always sinful. In
this case, the Christ sought to glorify the Father rather than
Himself. Lying to glorify the Lord God is not
wrong/sinful/unethical/evil. The misdirection of God's armies in
the promised land was righteous. The lying by members of the CIA
to protect us, the constitution, and our families is not
wrong/sinful/unethical/evil. Like all acts, one must ascertain a
righteous motive, righteous behavior, and a righteous outcome to
call said act good/righteous/ethical/moral. The problem we
humans have is that we want to lie, not for
good/righteous/ethical/moral reasons, but to protect ourselves
from blame. Not for good/righteous/ethical/moral reasons, but to
cast guilt to others. Not for good/righteous/ethical/moral
reasons, but to obtain a result that benefits us or our
"righteous" cause (capitalism, liberalism, justice,
etc.). Yet, our propensity to lie is one of the first signs of
sentience. We human beings are an odd species.
- Attributing an act as possessing inherent goodness/righteousness/ethicality/morality
is idolatry. When we believe we fully
understand motive, even within ourselves, we can easily judge
acts as immoral or moral. When we believe we fully understand an
act's results, we can easily judge acts as immoral or moral.
Yet, knowing the motive and results (along with the behavior of
the act) is absolutely critical in assessing whether a given act
But idolatry, you ask? James said it well (James 4:12) "There
is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and
destroy. But you--who are you to judge your neighbor?"
I can think of no greater harm to the cause of the Christ than
for us to pretend we are the Judge, that we fully understand the
spiritual inner workings of "motive," or the
omniscient impact of "results." He is Judge, and He
alone. We human beings are indeed an odd species.