Earlier this week, I wrote that we are saved by faith … period! And that is true. But when that happens, when the gospel takes root in the good soil of our hearts, we realize that God has called us to do good works. Our works are an expression of our faith.
Notice what the scripture says …
Jesus did good works:
And you know that God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. Then Jesus went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.Acts 10:38 NLT
We are called to do good works:
For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.1 Peter 2:21 NLT
Good works are evidence of our trust in God
When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. Because of his grace he made us right in his sight and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying, and I want you to insist on these teachings so that all who trust in God will devote themselves to doing good.Titus 3:4-8 NLT
Benefits of doing good
Conquer evil by doing good!
Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.Romans 12:21 NLT
We please God by doing good!
Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name. And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God.Hebrews 15:15-16 NLT
Good works are proof we are God’s children
Dear friend, don’t let this bad example influence you. Follow only what is good. Remember that those who do good prove that they are God’s children …3 John 1:11 NLT
To whom should we do good?
To those in the family of faith
So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith.Galatians 6:9-10 NLT
And to our enemies
But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. … Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked.Luke 6:27, 35 NLT
But what are good works?
First – what they are not – they are not our strivings to merit God’s pleasure. And they are not efforts done in our own strength, for recognition or reward. Our motives for doing good make all the difference!
Good works can fall into several categories:
1 – Being obedient to the commands of scripture
Jesus spoke several commands that we should obey. Some have tallied 49 of them. I won’t list all of those here but here is a poem by Kathleen Norris entitled “Imperatives:”
Look at the birds“Imperatives” by Kathleen Norris, from Journey: New and Selected Poems, 1969-1999.
Consider the lilies
Drink ye all of it
Enter by the narrow gate
Do not be anxious
Judge not; do not give dogs what is holy
Go: be it done for you
Do not be afraid
Young man, I say, arise
Stretch out your hand
Stand up, be still
Rise, let us be going…
© University of Pittsburgh Press, 2001.
2- Obeying the royal law of love
This is not significantly different from point 1 above since Jesus commanded us to love God and our neighbors. Doing good works for others falls in this category. Micah says it quite clearly – “O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” When we advocate for justice, serve the poor and needy, and demonstrate helping gifts, we are doing good works.
3- Doing good in our everyday life
The Apostle Paul writes to the Corinthians, “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” In our homes, as we cook, clean, help with homework, and taxi the kids from place to place, we are doing good works – when we do so with a motive of love and service. In our jobs, when our motives are pure, we do good works as we close the deal, grade the papers, or tally the groceries at the check-out counter. The same goes for our actions in our neighborhoods, being friendly, hospitable, and helpful – all count as good works! Right? When we are walking with the Lord, in step with the Spirit, asking for His guidance and help, our good works are like a light that points others to our Father in heaven.
Let’s ask the Father to purify our motives today and
lend a helping hand to someone in need.