By Harold Hancock
Most of us do some good works, but how many of us are good work conscious? To be good work conscious is to be aware of the many opportunities about us to do good. The Old Testament speaks of some who would lie upon their beds at night and think of evil to do. We need to think of good to do.
Good works are to characterize God’s people. Jesus “gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people zealous of good works” (Tit. 2:14). “Zealous” means “eager interest and enthusiasm.” God’s people should be looking for good to do, not just waiting for it. Who is known for good works in your town?
Good works are our purpose for existing in Christ Jesus. “For by grace ye are saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:8-10). Goodness does not save; we are saved to do good! This is our purpose of life as a Christian. This is what we need to be doing the most of. A machine that does not do what it is suppose to do is not any good. Salt that loses its savor is to be cast out.
Good works are a part of pure religion undefiled. “Pure religion and undefiled before the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their afflictions, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world” (Jas. 1:27). All would admit that visiting the fatherless and widows are good works, would they not? The point of James is doing. The person who has pure religion is a Christian doing good works. Good works also shows our faith. Jas. 2:14-18 speaks of feeding the hungry and clothing the naked. He speaks of faith and works. James was not trying to persuade someone to be baptized. James was writing to Christians. His point was that by doing these good works, and not just talking about them, we show our faith. Faith without works is dead. Have you a faith that is alive and that can be seen?
We glorify God with good works. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify the Father” (Mt. 5:16). Ben Franklin persuaded the city of Philadelphia to install street lights by first letting them see the warm, friendly glow in his own yard. We can get people to listen to the Gospel by letting them see a warmth of good radiating from us. Here we are face to face with the real reason for good works on the part of Christians – to honor God and to further His cause.
Some would do good works, but they have no time. Their time is consumed by other things. They are choked by the riches and cares and pleasures of this world. They bring forth no fruit unto perfection (Lk. 8:7, 14). Could it be that many need to weed their gardens? Others begin but grow slack. I remember how one young lady would sometimes call our home looking for something to do in, the name of the Lord, but she soon lost her zeal. “Let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Gal. 6:9).
The Lord’s church needs some good Samaritans to turn aside and show interest in others (Lk. 10:30-37). It needs some who are like Dorcas (Acts 9). It needs men full of exhortation and forgiveness like Barnabas. There is plenty of room for some mothers like the mother of Mark, who opened her home unto prayer (Acts 12). We need some couples like Aquila and Priscilla who will teach others (Acts 18).
Jesus stands at the end of life to say, “I know thy works.” He will know if they be few or many. He will not forget what good we do (Heb. 6:10). Someone said, “My religion is to do good.” Goodness alone cannot save (Eph. 2:8); but for the Christian the statement may be nearer right than some suspect. Join the brigade of do-gooders. Be good work conscious.
Truth Magazine XXIII: 7, p. 124
February 15, 1979