Some believers are still not sure of the place of good works in the plan of salvation, nor are they sure how to effect good works in a way that bears testimony to their faith, and more importantly, that gives honour and glory to Almighty God.
One of the problems here is that some people do great work, indeed quality good works, thinking that by their works they are doing God's will and so earn salvation. If salvation could be obtained through good works then there would be no need for Jesus Christ, and his atoning for us on the cross; and his death and resurrection would be meaningless.
Remember what Paul said about our works of righteousness in his letter to Titus, "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;" (Titus 3:5)
Indeed this is one of the tenets of Gnosticism, that we can work our way to eternal life. It was false then, (in the early church), and it is false now.
However, just because good works cannot earn salvation does not mean that they have no worth. That good works are important and have great value is something known to all believers. Paul urged the church at Colosse to be productive in the field of good works and clearly he saw this as essential for their development, "That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;" (Colossians 1:10)
To emphasise the importance of good works, the Apostle Paul repeated it over and over as here when he wrote to the Corinthians, "And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work." (2 Corinthians 9:8)
So good works must play an important part in the life of believers, not in a self-righteous, moral tone but as a demonstration of who we are in Christ and the expression of the fruitfulness of the Holy Spirit in our life.
Sometimes we are apt to see good works as big things, things of great moment; but in truth good works can be small things done in the right spirit.
We are reminded of this when Paul, in his first pastoral letter to Timothy was telling him how to select widows to be maintained by the church, and he wrote of the widows: "Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints' feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work." (1 Timothy 5:10)
Note what the good works of the widows included:
Raising children, i.e. not just properly raising her own well but baby-sitting and the likes
Lodging strangers, i.e. those from afar who might be preaching or visiting the church
Washing the saints' feet, i.e. doing a range of menial tasks demonstrating humility
Relieving the afflicted, i.e. showing compassion and giving assistance both naturally and spiritually
Just like the good works of the widows here, qualifying for church maintenance, there is great value in humble, everyday tasks, that in themselves are not glorious or mighty or of high esteem but in God's sight are valuable; both to the doer and to the ministry. As such Paul wants believers to be ready and be prepared to participate in such good works, "Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work," (Titus 3:1)
Are we truly conscious of the value of good works, and do we appreciate how good works can be a means of glorifying God? The Bible encourages us to, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." (Matthew 5:16)
Every believer who wants to glorify God needs to eliminate all that is impure and restrictive from his life, everything that obscures the image of Christ, even petty things of little consequence that can be confusing, and maximise his good works for God, "If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work." (2 Timothy 2:21)
When this is done God who is faithful will, "Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen." (Hebrews 13:21)
DEVOTIONAL PRAYER: God, be merciful to me because of your faithful love. Because of your great compassion, remove all the wrongs I have done. Make my spirit strong and ready to obey you that my light may shine, and my good works glorify you, in Jesus name I ask with thanksgiving. AMEN
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Dr. Henderson Ward received his Doctor of Divinity in theology, with distinction, from Masters International School of Divinity, USA, where he is currently a post-doctoral fellow. Dr. Ward's career involved pastoring, evangelism, and teaching. Copyright 2013
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