Grace is amazing! I’m so thankful for grace that saved me through no effort of my own. After all, I could never live up to God’s standard without the work of salvation by grace in the death of Jesus on the cross. All our good works are like filthy rags to God (Isaiah 64:6—some translations actually say “like menstrual rags”).
But even if grace is free, it doesn’t mean that we are excused forever from doing good works. Good works are not how we get into Heaven, but they do have value. Here are some of my thoughts about good works and the fruit (results) of those works:
- Good works are something that we were created to do (Ephesians 2:10)
- God’s work of salvation in us will come out as good fruit (Matthew 12:33)
- Our work will bear fruit, either good fruit or bad (Matthew 7:16-19)
- We are expected to bear fruit for the Kingdom of God (Matthew 3:8)
- If we don’t bear fruit, the Father will cut us off (John 15:2)
- We will bear fruit if we stay close to Jesus (John 15:5)
- Our work will be tested (1 Corinthians 3:12-14)
- It’s important to keep doing good works because we will reap a harvest if we do not give up (Galatians 6:9)
We could never save ourselves by good works, so that’s not the point of doing good works. When we do “good works” in our flesh, we produce filthy rags. Yes, even those things that seem good are nothing without the Holy Spirit’s guidance. So you can spend your whole life working alongside Mother Teresa, but if God didn’t call you there, it’s all wasted effort. And even if you are called there, but don’t spend daily time in prayer, seeking God’s face, it’s wasted effort.
Good works should produce good fruit (results) for the Kingdom—fruit that lasts. So to produce good fruit, we’ve got to stay close to Jesus through the Holy Spirit.
Now examine yourself. Think about how you spend your time each day. How much time do you spend praying and reading God’s Word and then doing good works that He’s called you to do? Now compare that to how much time you waste in front of the TV, at the computer, or playing with electronic gadgets. (I’m not perfect, either, just in case you’re wondering.) The world has lots of ways of seducing us away from our first love (God), so it takes some effort to resist those temptations. Even things that are not sins, strictly speaking, can be sins if they take us away from those things that we should be doing.
So thanks to Jesus, we’ve gotten a boost that gets us entry into Heaven. But now it’s up to us to do the good works that will bear lasting fruit for the Kingdom. And these things we do not just because it’s required of us, but out of a grateful heart.
Once you do surrender your will completely to Him, you’ll find that His yoke really is easy and His burden is light.
God is good.