What does it mean to be good? I’m look at that question in a sermon this weekend and I came across this video from a gameshow about four years ago.
The Moment of Truth is an American gameshow which forces candidates to admit to the truth or lose the money. Contestants are connected to a lie detector and then subjected to a series of ever more personal questions. After each correct answer, they win the next amount of money. At any point before a question is asked, they can take the money and run. However, if they answer a question and the polygraph determines that they are not telling the truth, they lose it all.
This is disturbing viewing.
Given the choice between saving her marriage and winning the money, she chooses the money. I don’t want to dwell on judging her as we don’t know the ins and outs of her situation, although it is evident that her actions are certainly questionable.
It’s the very last question that I find intriguing. “Do you think that you’re a good person?” This question comes after she has already admitted to stealing from her employers, marrying someone whilst being in love with someone else, having an extra-marital affair whilst married to this person, and admitting that she would leave him and end her marriage for her ex-boyfriend. All this whilst her husband, sister, parents and millions of viewers look on. In effect she has destroyed her marriage in order to progress in the gameshow.
Then the final question: “Do you think you’re a good person?”. She answers ‘Yes’. The polygraph says ‘No’. Although she’d like to believe it, and I’m sure that she wants to be, deep down she knows that she isn’t. It leads us to ask what her definition of ‘good person’ is, and how does she fit it?
And that answer lost her the money. Both marriage and money gone.
Now, before we get incredulous that she thinks she’s a good person, let’s think again.
We are looking at the question of goodness from the incident when the rich young ruler approaches Jesus (Luke 18:18-30). The young ruler called Jesus ‘good’. Jesus replies ‘why do you call me good? No-one is good except God alone’. The ruler thought he was good, and by comparison to many he was. He was able to say that he’d kept the commandments. However, Jesus then redefines the notion of good not in terms of rules kept, but in terms of God’s goodness. ‘Follow me’ is the instruction – the One who is good. In the end the rich man couldn’t leave his money, lifestyle and possessions in order to do that. “It is impossible” he says, “for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven”. But he goes on “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”
I think there’s a hint of this lady, and of the rich man in me. I want to be good by doing the right thing. I might like to admit that I think I’m a good person on the inside, yet when I put my life under scrutiny, especially in the context of the Sermon on the Mount, I can’t. But what is impossible with man is possible with God.
You can watch the majority of the show below: Parts 2, 3, 4, and the ending. Mark Wahlburg, the presenter, looks uncomfortable throughout. It is a show that makes you want to cry inside.
Just the final question: