Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Good works - what and why?

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TODAY'S SPECIAL: Titus 3:1-15

TO CHEW ON: "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us .... those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works." - Titus 3:5,8

If Titus has any question about the role of good works in a Christian's life, Paul clears it up in this bit of his letter.

He says, first, that doing good works is not a way to earn salvation. That comes through God's mercy and the supernatural new birth where He washes us clean (signified so beautifully by baptism) and renews us with the Holy Spirit.

But good works are important. Paul says we are to be careful to maintain them and that they are good and profitable. Other Bible passages shed more light on what good works are and their role in our lives.

What are good works?
  • Isaiah gives us some broad good work categories: seeking justice, rebuking the oppressor, defending the fatherless, and taking up the case of the widow - Isaiah 1:17.
  • Jesus describes a future time when God will praise those who fed the hungry, took in the stranger, clothed the poor, and visited the sick and prisoner as if they had done these things to Him - Matthew 25:35-36.
  • Paul describes good works as being ready to give and willing to share - 1 Timothy 6:18.

Why do good works?
  • Jesus tells us our good works point people to God - Matthew 5:16.
  • Paul links good works with God's process of purifying us for Himself - Titus 2:14.
  • James makes a powerful case for good works being the evidence that our faith is real - James 2:17-18.
  • To the writer to the Hebrews, good works are a kind church fellowship glue when members think about how to stir up love and good deeds in each other - Hebrews 10:24.

Over the Christmas season we'll probably get lots of chances to do good works—contribute to food bank drives, sing carols at nursing homes, put together boxes of gifts for children in faraway lands, assemble hampers for needy families... The needs are legion and all around us. Let's not give in to mercy fatigue that shuts its heart to doing good works because of the multitude of appeals. Rather, let's let good works characterize us because that's who believers in Jesus are. 

PRAYER: Dear God, please grow compassion and generosity in me. May my life be known for good works that are an asset to You and Your reputation. Amen.

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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