It seems that in many Protestant churches, ours included, the concept of works is a touchy subject. We teach that works righteousness is not real righteousness. No one can ‘earn” their way to heaven by what they do. So, we shy away from talking about works because they have become too closely associated with faulty attempts to appease God somehow. We question ourselves and our motives, even as we serve our neighbors, hoping our passions are placed in the right places.
We’re fond of quoting passages like Ephesians 2:8-10:
“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. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
We read these verses and wonder if our works come from our desire to serve God or as an attempt to get Him to look past our brokenness. We must ask ourselves. is this helping us or is all our worrying causing us to avoid them all-together?
Martin Luther broke works up into four categories:
The wisdom here is found in the knowledge that works can come from a variety of different places within the heart, both dark and light. Our challenge, then, is to, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
The secret is to do all things for the glory of God, out of faith in God, through trust in God. I call it a secret, because all of our worrying about motives has caused us to forget this somehow. We are to do good works because they are the righteous thing to do. Titus 3:14 reminds us to, …let our people learn to devote themselves to good works, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not be unfruitful.”
We are to do good works because we are motivated to do them through faith in God. “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save them?…….show me your faith apart from works, and I will show you my faith by my works” (James 2:14, 18).
As we follow our various callings, we are to do them without worry, trusting that God will take us to those places we should go. The same applies to our works. First build on your faith, then let God direct you. Build your relationship with God and let your good works follow because of the strength of that relationship. Make everything you do a ministry by glorifying God in all you do.
We were created for good works, so let the creator lead you to those opportunities to serve Him and each other. Don’t let possible motives be an excuse. Be the person God created you to be and let faith be your motivation. Please pray with me:
Heavenly Father, thank you for all the opportunities you give us to serve You by serving each other. Keep us from overthinking our motives and lead us to do what is right because it is the righteous thing to do. Challenge us and mold us into that person of love you had in mind when You made us. Amen.