Posted by Nathan Warner on

“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” (Matthew 5:16).

Through God’s Son, we were shown something new— “good” works done in self-sacrifice for the good of others and often at our own expense.  God gives His adopted children good works to do in the world in His name that illustrate His character.  These works require no compensation and seek no praise, just as Jesus sought no wealth or honor for Himself, but laid down His life in living and dying for the physically and spiritually distressed—healing the sick, protecting the vulnerable, helping the poor, feeding the hungry, preaching the Gospel, taking the sin of the world upon Himself to restore mankind to God, etc. 

When Believers imitate Jesus by His Spirit, these good works go far beyond creating the atmosphere of security, stability, and reliability that mutually beneficial work can accomplish—these good works generate an atmosphere filled with the fruit of the Spirit: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23).  What does that mean practically?  Well, when people fall on hard times or endure suffering, they can trust that their neighbors will be a source of genuine love and care, joy in any sadness, peace and stability for them in their turmoil, patience when they share their frustration and pain, kindness for their situation, goodness in all their caring, provision, and actions, faithfulness in their presence for them, gentleness in their words and conduct, and self control in handling their vulnerability and "nakedness". 

In all these things we are declaring the character of the Kingdom of God in practical ways.  We can see this when Jesus sent out His disciples to various cities to preach the Gospel and “heal those in it who are sick, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you’” (Luke 10:9).  They were instructed to declare this after they had done a good work for the people in the house—the practical correcting of the physical effects of the Fall.  This was a good work from God that represented the nature of the Kingdom of God.  And this has been the model for Christians ever since—that through good works we would be ambassadors, declaring the character of God’s Kingdom in the manifestation of the Fruit of the Spirit.  Through the Spirit’s leading, Believers are to be remedying the suffering caused by creation’s slavery to corruption, which is a result of the Fall that all creation is subjected to (Romans 8:20-21) and human sin and unrighteousness which brings the sort of suffering Job stood against (delivering the poor, orphan, and widow from oppression - Job 29:12-17).

These good works that God created through Jesus Christ for us to do have made the western world the most caring, free, and hopeful community the world has ever seen.  In comparison, many communities to this day reject people who were suffering as “deserving” of the oppression they are experiencing and any help or aid to them is seen as wasteful or even immoral.  But those who suffer see in the good works of God’s children a small glimmer of the Kingdom of God.  This glimmer made such a difference in the world that by the late 19th century many people falsely believed that their good works were physically bringing Christ’s Kingdom on Earth for Him to simply inherit—but Scripture says Christ alone will bring it.

It remains true that through our good works, the Kingdom of God comes NEAR to our neighbors and they can see through those things a glimpse of the character of God and His Kingdom—a practical picture of things to come and the call of the Gospel to make peace with God through Jesus Christ and inherit that Kingdom as their home.  So, we should take our conduct as Believers seriously in this mighty practical ministry God has given us in our lives, as the Spirit directs us.  Amen.

Tags: jesus, works, good works, practical, fruit of the spirit, self-sacrifice


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