You’ve probably heard someone refer to someone else as a “good man.” But what exactly is meant by such a description of a person? In Jeremiah 5:1, God told Jeremiah to see if he could find a good man. The remainder of the fifth chapter of Jeremiah describes God’s definition of a good man.
First, a good man is one who is careful in his dealings with others (5:1.) The ASV renders this as one who “doeth justly.” Justice is to be determined, not by what is right in our own eyes, but in light of what is in accordance with God’s law (Psalm 119:66.) The man whom God considers a good man is one who is fair and honest in his dealings with others. Those in the early church were said to be “having favor with all the people” because of the exemplary lives they led (Acts 2:47.)
Second, a good man is one who is committed to seeking the truth (5:1.) Because of his desire for the truth, his interest in what is right is greater than his interest in who is right. A good man is one who places a high value upon the truth (John 8:32, I Corinthians 13:6, I Timothy 3:15, II Timothy 2:15, I Peter 1:22.)
Third, a good man is careful in his speech (5:2.) A good man’s speech is consistent with his lifestyle. A good man is one who speaks the truth. A good man is one who keeps his word, never making promises he is incapable of keeping or has no intentions of keeping (Deuteronomy 23:23, Matthew 5:33-37, James 5:12.)
Fourth, a good man is one who receives correction (5:3-5.) God’s chastisement is a manifestation of his love for us. God’s chastisement serves to correct our faults, strengthen our faith, and help prepare us for eternity.
Fifth, a good man is morally pure (5:7-8.) One of the many lessons we learn from the book of Jeremiah is that apostasy always leads to moral decay. As Christians, we are to shine as lights in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation (Philippians 2:15.)
Sixth, a good man places his confidence in God (5:17, 24.) The people of Jeremiah’s day foolishly placed their confidence in their walled cities. David wrote that God would be his rock and his fortress (Psalm 18:2.) As Christians, we are to trust in the Lord with all our hearts (Proverbs 3:5-6.)
Seventh, a good man is one who is concerned with the welfare of others (5:28.) The people in Jeremiah’s day were consumed with satisfying their own desires. As Christians, we must be concerned with those who are less fortunate than ourselves (Proverbs 31:20, Ephesians 4:28, James 1:27.)