Jesus was once approached by someone who addressed Him as “Good Teacher.” In response, Jesus said that only God deserved to be called good. This was a remarkable statement.
Why would Jesus shun praise? First of all, He knew that the praise of men was a temptation and therefore He refused to indulge in it. Similarly, we should be very wary of seeking the approval of other people instead of the approval of God. (For more, see Whose Approval Do You Want? .) Although He Himself was God in the flesh, Jesus was determined to live life as a human, and thereby demonstrate to us how we should conduct ourselves on the earth.
Jesus maintained a mindset that considered not just what He could see through His physical eyes, but also what He knew to be true even though He couldn’t see it. That is, He lived life according to the light of the knowledge of God and not just the light of the sun and the moon. Again, this is an attitude we are to imitate. (For more, see Walking in the Spirit and Not in the Flesh .) So conscious was Jesus of His Father, that He could not accept the characterization of “good” while in His Father’s presence. The person who addressed Jesus as “Good Teacher” obviously was not conscious of God’s presence, and for this reason Jesus was the most “good” he could see at that moment of that day.
Leaving aside the earthly life of Jesus for a moment, who among human beings can we say is good…when compared to God? (Adding the last part of the question creates a different answer, doesn’t it?) We humans are riddled throughout with evils great and small. We corruptly seek our own desires day after day, all the while telling ourselves we’re not as bad as some other guy. Typically, we love what we want rather than loving what is right. Fortunately, for those who do want to do right, there is an answer. (For more, see Do You Love What Is Right? .) Even those who want to do right, however, stumble and fall often. The only reason our sinfulness is not more apparent to others is that our thoughts are private. Were all our thoughts broadcast from a television screen on our forehead, our reputations would crumble in a week.
God is not surprised that we sin and has made provision for our eternal well-being in spite of it. (For more, see Everyone Is Going to Heaven .) Yet this does not mean our sins are without consequence, for indeed we must each give a full account of our thoughts, words, and deeds. (For more, see Judgment Is Upon Us .) Thus, Jesus Christ lived…in order to teach us how to live.
Repenting of our self-centered lives and devoting ourselves to living for His purpose is the way to migrate from our badness to His goodness. Nothing less radical will work. Yet this migration cannot be undertaken collectively. We must each undertake the journey as individuals. You cannot make anyone else more righteous; neither can anyone else make you more righteous. Only you, submitted to Jesus Christ as Lord, can become a partaker of His divine nature.