Good Deeds

Over the holidays I read the book of Titus wherein Paul stresses the importance of Christians performing good deeds.

First he described deceived people who “profess to know God but by their deeds they deny Him“. In other words they talk about God and say they know Him but if you look at what they do, their actions nullify their words. They don’t know Him.

Then he says of the same people, “they are disobedient and worthless for any good deed.” They did not follow the commands of Jesus and the apostles; therefore, they practiced lawlessness.

With this backdrop, he gives instructions about Christian ethics:

  • …show yourself to be an example of good deeds. Titus 2:7
  • … be zealous for good deeds. Titus 2:14
  • ….to be ready for every good deed Titus 3:1
  • ….so that those who have believed God may be careful to engage in good deeds Titus 3:8
  • let our people also learn to engage in good deeds to meet pressing needs that they may not be unfruitful. Titus 3:14

Why is Paul, the former persecutor of the Jewish Christians, stressing this point so strongly? It is because he knew Jesus had said the following:

“My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.” Matthew 5:18

The evidence of a Christian life is a changed life. We are not the same sinful person we were before we came to know Christ as Savior. We are not perfect but are being morally changed by His word and His Spirit resulting in new behavior. We go from bearing evil fruit to bearing good fruit that honors, magnifies; hence, glorifies our Father in heaven.

James also makes the point about good deeds but from another point of view:

[14] What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? [15] If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, [16] and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? [17] Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. … James 2:14-17

The deceived people are individuals who profess to know God (i.e. have faith) but by their deeds they deny Him (i.e. have no good works). James says their “faith” is dead. It is not saving faith.

In closing, I want to make it very plain that good deeds or good works have NOTHING to do with earning salvation. Salvation is a free gift from God based on the finished work Christ did on the Cross for us. Paul writes:

[8] For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; [9] not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. [10] For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. …

The good works that have value follow our salvation, not earn for us salvation. Many people and even whole religious systems have this important point reversed. They are trying to earn their way to God but it will never work.

May we Christians validate the words of faith that have flowed from our lips by bearing much fruit to the glory of God the Father.

May they who do not know Christ, read the New Testament and discover the Wonderful Savior who died and was resurrected for them. May they enter the narrow way that leads to Life.

May your good deeds be multiplied!

Carl

God Wants Us To Meet Pressing Needs

If you go to the state of Idaho today, the U. S. Forest Service has identified and marked some of the trails Lewis and Clark traveled in 1803 – 1804. The trails were created thousands of years before Lewis and Clark, by the Native Americans traveling to the buffalo hunting grounds and back. It was in these mountains that Lewis and his men were close to starvation. Lewis sent a small advance party ahead of the main group on foot, hoping to find an Indian tribe that had food. As the advance party emerged from the mountains onto the prairie, they surprised a Nez Perce foraging party, consisting of mainly women, children and older men. They were digging camas roots for food.

The Indians were startled by the strangers. Though they had heard of the white man from other tribes, they had never seen one and these strangers did not look white. The Americans were very dark due to sunburns, had full straggly beards. They were dirty, stinky men dressed in strange clothing with things on their heads (hats), and spoke words they did not understand. They later stated that initially they thought the Americans were a form of wild dog.

After the initial meeting was over and the tribe had fed the party camas roots and dried fish, Lewis’ men made their camp for the night outside the village. The unusual food made all the men sick. The Indians meanwhile convened a tribal meeting to decide what to do with the strangers. It was agreed that they would kill Lewis and all of his men.

Nez Perce tradition says the reason they decided to kill the men was because the tribe had recently sent a peace delegation to the Shoshones to establish friendly relations, but the peace overtures were rejected and the entire delegation was killed. When Lewis and his group showed up, they had with them a female Shoshone guide, Sacajawea. The Nez Perce were afraid this group was a Shoshone Trojan horse to destroy their village.

An Indian woman named, Watkuweis, whose name means “Returns from a Far Land”, objected. She had been kidnapped by the Minitarries tribe and taken north, eventually ending up in the Great Lakes area where she saw white people. After being the slave of a white man, she escaped and was given supplies and a horse by kind white people, which allowed her to eventually reach her Idaho tribe.

She told the group that it would be wrong to kill these strangers, because they were good people like the ones who had helped her to escape.

Due to the kindness shown this poor woman, by white strangers who had nothing to gain by helping her, the Nez Perce spared the lives of Lewis, Clark and the twenty members of the Corp.

We do not know if these white people where Christians or not but, at a minimum, I believe they had been influenced by Christian teaching or culture. The wilderness was a tough place to live and a wicked person would definitely not have a problem with making someone his slave to share some of the tasks.

The point is, they helped save the life of this poor, abused, lonely woman and later, their kind, unselfish, deed was multiplied at least 22 times by saving the lives of the expedition members. These people never knew their kindness saved Lewis and his men.

As born again people, our Heavenly Father, has given us instructions through Paul about good deeds:

“Our people must also learn to engage in good deeds to meet pressing needs, so that they will not be unfruitful.” Titus 3:14 NASB

Paul says again to Titus:

“This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and profitable for men.” Titus 3:8 NASB

Therefore, let this true story encourage us to “engage in good deeds to meet pressing needs”. We may never know what fruit is borne in other’s lives because of our compassion. But, there is coming a day when all shall be revealed and we will know the whole story.

Before you and I were saved, God had already prepared good deeds for us to engage in.

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10 NASB

And Lord Jesus said;

“By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.” John 15:8

May your, “walking in good works”, bring joy to you and to the Lord. At the same time, we will be glorifying our Father in heaven! Blessings upon you.

Thank you for your time,

Carl