Posted by Nathan Warner on

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).

We’ve seen that mankind was made by God for work—to emulate Him, for He is a God of work, done in faithfulness to all His creation.  We, likewise, are to be doing work in the world in faithfulness for our commitments to our neighbors, employers, government, etc.—mutually beneficial works as we see all nature doing—work for compensation or a living.

But God showed mankind a clearer picture of His character when He sent His Son into the world to do works entirely in self-sacrifice for those who have done nothing to earn compensation or to merit them—Scripture calls these “Good Works.”  Jesus described some thus: “I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me” (Matt. 25:35-36).  Similarly, in faith, Job “delivered the poor who cried for help, and the orphan who had no helper. The blessing of the one ready to perish came upon me, and I made the widow’s heart sing for joy...I was eyes to the blind and feet to the lame. I was a father to the needy, and I investigated the case which I did not know. I broke the jaws of the wicked and snatched the prey from his teeth” (Job 29:12-17). 

These works did not benefit Job.  In fact they put him in danger and took from his own time and energy and substance—these were works done for people who couldn’t pay him back or compensate him.  While Job was a leader in his community and these works were part of his commitment to the people he served in faithfulness, these works are a calling from God for every Believer—in emulation of Jesus, for we are told to “not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who...emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant” (Phil. 2:4-7a), fulfilling the Law by serving His Father in love and loving His neighbors in service (First and Second Commandments)

While it is true that Good Works don’t directly benefit us, in the wisdom of God, these acts of self-sacrifice greatly benefit our communities in very practical ways and create an atmosphere of justice, nurturing, forgiveness, grace, hope, etc., but most importantly, they bring glory to God, as Jesus taught: “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16). 

How could they not bring glory to God and good to others?—they are acts of self-sacrifice done in love in imitation of Jesus who laid down His life for all mankind.  “We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (1 John 3:16), “for the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (Gal. 5:14). 

Good Works proceed from God through the Holy Spirit.  It is by dedicating our heart, soul, and mind to God that His fruit grows in us, motivating our good works of self-sacrifice, nourishing our neighborhoods through “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Gal. 5:22b-23).

In conclusion, “whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men...It is the Lord Christ whom you serve” (Col. 3:23-24).  “The Lord is good to all, And His mercies are over all His works” (Ps. 145:9), and “the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked” (1 John 2:6), for “we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18).  Even so, Amen.

Tags: money, god, creation, living, father, works, work, good works, beneficial works


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