Sunday, December 12, 2010

Good Works or God’s Work?

Many Christians give of their time, talents, and possessions to serve those that are in need. Our Lord instructs us to reach out to the hungry, the lonely, the imprisoned, and anyone else in need as we would provide for our Lord Himself. But, are we truly fulfilling Christ’s mission if we fail to do this to the glory of our Savior’s name. What differentiates those that perform these tasks in Jesus’ name and those that simply do this out of the goodness of their hearts? One does not need to know the Lord to give of oneself much more than many Christians would ever do. Those Christians that fail to nurture the spirit of those that they serve, do them a great disservice. If one fails to fill their heart with the Holy Spirit when doing good works, one can easily fall into the trap of the evil one and become enamored of oneself and those good works that we accomplish. Romans 15:18, "I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me." Something as simple as telling someone that Jesus loves them while serving in a soup kitchen is even more important than providing food for them. We don’t need to proselytize to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Our actions can serve as a beacon to those we serve. But, we must do these things in Jesus’ name and be selfless as we serve. Matthew 20:28, just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." Luke 22:26-27, “But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. 27 For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.” Just as our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ came to serve, so should we be servants of our Lord. It is not our willingness to merely perform these tasks; it should be our willingness to serve the Lord.

Matthew 6:1-4, “Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.” It is so easy to forget why we reach out to those in need. When we do justice toward our fellow man, we tend to congratulate ourselves for reaching out and expect, to not only impress our neighbor, but to impress our God. When we are so wrapped up in doing good deeds, we often lose sight that our Lord taught us that this is what He expects us to do, in His name. For everything that we have and are is a gift from God. Our good deeds are merely a faint reflection of our Lord’s love for us. Every day the Holy Spirit taps us on the shoulder, offering us opportunities to serve Him by reaching out to our brothers and sisters. We are not to take credit for doing what our Lord taught us. John 7:37-39, On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” 39 By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.” When we truly believe, we will be filled with the Spirit so that we become the instruments by which the Holy Spirit uses to minister to the world. All our good works flow from the Holy Spirit that dwells within us. Filled with the Holy Spirit, we can joyfully reach out in true Christian love to our neighbors, and proclaim the glory of our Lord.

There are many agencies that reach out to the world in need. Some are Christian, some are not. Some Christian missions tend to downplay the Lord’s role in their mission, instead choosing to be politically correct and tolerant with the emphasis on demonstrating their love for their neighbor. There will always be secular agencies that reach out to feed the poor, but as Christians, we are not only called to feed the poor, we are to pronounce our love of our God by proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world.  When we engage in our good works, we do so to bring the glory to our Lord and to bring those we serve to God. So, we must remember that this life is but a mere whisper of what lies ahead. John 6:32-35, “Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34 “Sir,” they said, “from now on give us this bread.” 35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” Feeding the body without feeding the soul with the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ will only lead to spiritual starvation and death. “The first and highest, the most precious of all good works is faith in Christ.” - Martin Luther from Chapter II of the Treatise on Good Works.  So, fill your heart with the love of the Lord and let the Spirit flow like a river while you go out and do God's work.  Praise be to God!

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