One of my favorite statements written about Jesus is found in Acts 10:38: “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power, who went about doing good. . .” (emphasis mine). It’s a very simple phrase, but how powerful it is! Jesus lived His earthly life doing good everywhere He went. He never wasted an opportunity, but seized it for the glory of His Father and the good of others. The action of good works was not something extra for Jesus, it was the natural outflow of love to God and obedience to His will.
We need to have a proper understanding of good works and the place they have in our lives. While it is true that we are not eternally saved by works, it is also true that as believers we should be involved in good works. In other words, let us decry any type of works-based religion, because salvation is by grace through faith, but let us also decry a Christianity that is devoid of good works! The New Testament is abundantly clear on the reality that we are justified by faith alone in Christ alone, but it’s also clear that now as disciples of Christ we are to be active in working for our God. Take some time to meditate on the verses below:
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matt.5:16).
“As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith” (Gal.6:10).
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Eph.2:10).
“That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate” (1 Tim.6:18).
“This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men” (Tit.3:8).
“And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works” (Heb.10:24).
“For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also” (Jam.2:26).
That is a very small sampling of the numerous times good works are highlighted in Scripture. The truth is, every believer is responsible to be doing good works – we cannot escape this reality. We should not make excuses that we’re just not talented, or that it’s just the pastor’s job, or that we just don’t know what God wants us to do. There are many things that are clear in Scripture and that you don’t need a doctorate degree to do. The question is not do we feel like it or are we qualified, but are we going to be obedient! Jesus went about doing good because He knew it was the Father’s will and He gladly accepted that responsibility.
Another important truth to consider is that not only are good works our responsibility, they are the evidence or outgrowth of our being in love with Jesus and filled with His Spirit. If we are focused on good works just as a duty, then we may appear faithful for a while but we will eventually falter. Good works that are acceptable to God are born out of a true love relationship with Jesus; love is the ultimate motivation and what keeps us faithful in our responsibilities. Paul states in 2 Corinthians 5:14, “For the love of Christ constraineth us.” If we are not currently in love with Jesus, then either we are not performing good works or the quality of our works is greatly lacking.
Also, being filled with the Holy Spirit will definitely lead to our going about doing good. Notice, again, in Acts 10:38 that Jesus was anointed with the Holy Ghost, and then He went about doing good. It was the natural result of being controlled by God’s Spirit. Remember, goodness is one of the fruits of the Spirit; in other words, it’s what He produces when you’re filled with Him. We have no capability of producing goodness ourselves; that’s why the Bible says even the plowing of the wicked is sin (Prov.21:4). But when we are filled with the Spirit, not only can we see true goodness in our lives, but we will see His goodness by His works through us.
Jesus went about doing good – what about you and me? I love the quote, and the source is unknown to me, but it says, “If you were put on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” Again, we don’t go to heaven based on the evidence of works, but we do give weight to our Christian faith by how we live and the works we do. Good works are vitally important, not for salvation, but for sanctification and service.
We are a few weeks into 2023; have we been seizing opportunities to do good? Have we helped anybody out yet in a meaningful way? It is our responsibility and an indicator of whether or not we are truly filled with the Spirit. May God open our eyes to the countless ways we can go about doing good, and may we ever reflect our Savior in that way!