“One good deed a day!” was the Boy Scout motto that I tried to follow as a youth. My unsaved friends often try to do good, to be kind, to help when possible. But I have learned as a believer why we should do good works.
John Wesley, the circuit-riding preacher, once said, “Do all the good you can, in all the ways you can, to all the souls you can, in every place you can, at all the times you can, with all the zeal you can, as long as ever you can.” I don’t believe my friend Mike and my other unsaved friends —
27. THEY DON’T HAVE A BIBLICAL UNDERSTANDING OF GOOD WORKS!
When our house burned down in 2003 my unsaved tennis buddies literally gave me the shirts off their backs! They provided meals, words of encouragement, and practical help for which we were most grateful. So what’s the blessing I have which my lost friends don’t have?
What they don’t have is the why of doing good works. For those outside Christ, many live good, moral lives to earn credit with God. They envision a large scale in front of God’s throne which will weigh their good works versus their bad works. And they hope beyond hope that the good works’ side will win the day.
But no one can do enough good works to merit God’s forgiveness. The very idea of earning God’s grace is an insult to the amazing sacrifice which the Son of God made when He gave His life on the cross for our sins!
Believers in Jesus know why they are to do good works. Not to earn or even keep their salvation, but to honor God and to serve the world. We read in Ephesians 2 —
Here we see that salvation is not a matter of human works, but solely of receiving God’s grace by faith. But, after salvation, there are good works which God has prepared in advance for us to do! For the believer, the question is, are you doing them? For the unbeliever, you first need to get into God’s family through the work of Christ. Then you can work on Ephesians 2:10!
There are many passages that speak about the believer’s doing good works, such as James 4:17 (“If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.“); Rom. 12:21 (“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.“); Gal. 6:10 (“Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.“); and Titus 2:14 (. . . . who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.”).
Granted, unsaved people do good works because they are made in the image of God, they care about the needs of others, and they seek to live “good” lives. And we may commend them for the good they do. But that’s not salvation.
So, how do I pray for my lost friend Mike? I pray first of all for myself that my faith would not just be verbal, that I would show my relationship to Christ by what I do for others. For Mike, I would pray that he would abandon the idea of earning God’s favor by his own works and would cast himself on Christ whose work was perfect. (to be continued)