If that statement is true, then why work? Why should we attempt to do any good deeds, from serving in the church nursery to teaching Sunday school to feeding the hungry to building and orphanage or a hospital? The answer is really simple. God doesn’t need your good works; your neighbor does. Let’s unpack this idea.
First, we need to see that our good works just aren’t all that good. They are stained with mixed motives, selfish ambition, and our sin-stained hearts.
We have all become like one who is unclean and all our good works are like filthy rags. (Isaiah 64:6)
Second, we need to see living the Christian faith as an outward expression of an inward reality. Because God in Christ has reached down to us, we are to respond by reaching up to God and out to others.
This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heart from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another. (John 15:12-17)
Thirdly, we need to see our good works as an opportunity to put on display the glory of the Gospel by reflecting the character of the One who saved us.
God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. (Acts 10:38)
Our neighbors need to see an accurate picture of the God whom we love and serve. This is best done when our faith has hands and feet. The more we are conformed into the image of our Lord, the more we will look like Him. When we deliver good works for the glory of God and the good of others, we make our God attractive to the watching world. He went about doing good; we, too, must go about doing good.
One final point: we don’t perform good works in order to gain our acceptance from God. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). We go about doing good because we are already accepted; and in our completely unconditional acceptance, our good works become the fruit of our faith.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!