“As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and asked Him, ‘Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.'” Mark 10:17-18

Many think that the purpose of the Christian is to be a good person. However, Todd Outcalt says that while striving to be good is admirable, it still misses the mark of what it means to follow Christ.

“I think what Jesus was getting at is the goal of our faith. Our deepest desires should not be that we’re pursuing goodness, but that we end up knowing the One who is good. The ultimate goal of the Christian faith is to trust completely in God’s grace.”

Todd says that our pursuit of goodness can actually drive us farther away from God instead of closer to Him as we become more self-focused and self-reliant.

“We’re pursuing something that we think is inside of ourselves as opposed to looking to God. There is a goodness that can lead us to God, or there is a goodness that can lead us to become self-sufficient and privileged. The former is life, and the later, a deadly virtue.”

As a member of the clergy, Todd says he strives to live by three simple rules.

1. Do no harm.

2. Do good.

3. Stay in love with God.

However, that striving become more important than an actual relationship with God.

“Sometimes I think we can fail at any of those, but if we stay in love with God, we will be able to do the first two.”

Not doing harm and doing good are natural byproducts of staying in love and in step with the Lord.


Todd E. Outcalt is senior pastor at Calvary United Methodist Church in Brownsburg, Indiana. He is the author of more than thirty books, including The Other JesusCommon Ground, and Before You Say “I Do,” and has written for many magazines including The Christian CenturyPreachingYouthWorker, and Ministry Matters.

Key Scripture: Matthew 6:1

Featured Songs: Magnify – We Are Messengers; Let Them See You – JJ Weeks Band; King of the World – Natalie Grant

Seven deadly virtues

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