A Gift of Self-Sacrifice
Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
What is the difference between a righteous and a good man? Why would someone (perhaps you) be more willing to die for a good man, but not so much for a righteous man? And by the way: What is Paul’s point in all this? These are some really good questions, so let’s take a look.
The dictionary defines righteous as “always behaving according to a religious or moral code”; and good as “high quality or standard, either on an absolute scale or in relation to another or others”. In other words, a righteous man is simply “upright or just” in his relationship with God, while a good man is considered “benevolent” or a blessing toward society in general. In our passage, Paul tells us — rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, but maybe for the good man — the slight difference is because of the good man’s benefit to his fellow man. However, these are exceptions — most of us would not give our life for another person no matter how righteous or good he might be.
Now Paul uses this example which we can all understand, and draws a stark contrast to God’s love for us: “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” By inference Paul is asking: “If most of you wouldn’t die for a righteous or even a good man — then who would die for a sinner?” Answer: No one. Yet this is precisely how God chose to demonstrate His love for us!
Who would you die for? Right now, if asked: “For whom would you give your life?” — a child, spouse, perhaps a parent, sibling or close friend? Have you ever thought about what you would do if a brother came to you and said: “I’m dying and I need a kidney. Will you give me yours?” God didn’t just give us a body part, He gave us Himself — whole and complete — as payment for our sins. What a beautiful and amazing gift of self-sacrifice!