<<acts of kindness>>
Voluntary acts of thoughtfulness, motivated by love and good will to others, done with no reward expected on earth (in contrast to paid work). Without the right motivation though, there can be ulterior reasons too. As with paid work, good works should be “done as unto the Lord” – in obedience to His Word and the prompting of the Spirit with integrity, enthusiasm and diligence, to the best of your ability and for His glory (Mt 5:16; 1 Cor 10:31; 1 Pet 4:11). Our whole lifestyle should be typified by ‘good works’ done for Jesus and in obedience to Him, not just those related to my ministry.
The most rewarding and gratifying experiences in life come through serving others. Jesus said, those that lose their life for His sake will find it (Mt 10:39). This is not necessarily being martyred but living for His purposes and ministering His life to others. Although there is no tangible benefit to the giver, when doing things for others ‘from the goodness of your heart’, an overwhelming sense of satisfaction and pleasure wells up within, especially when done for those who could never repay the gesture (Lk 14:13,14). The Bible states, “Love and do good to your enemies” for all good works that are prompted by faith will enrich the receiver as well as compensating the doer (2 Kgs 6:21-23; Mt 5:43-48; Lk 6:35; Rom 12:14; 2 Thes 1:11). We are challenged to do good when we have the opportunity, knowing that our good will not go unrewarded even if we don’t see any visible results. We can therefore be generous, believing we will reap in a comparable proportion to what we have invested towards others (Lk 6:38; 1 Cor 15:58; 2 Cor 9:6; Gal 6:7). The Lord will reward everyone for the good they do so don’t become weary of doing it (Eccl 12:14; 2 Cor 5:10; Gal 6:9; Eph 6:8; 2 Thes 3:13; Rev 22:12). Seeing a need and, where morally appropriate, seeking to meet it is genuine Christianity, while not doing it is sin (Lk 10:25-37; Jas 2:14-26, 4:17). Our Christian faith is lived out by good works, otherwise it is dead.
Love in action
Good works can be an evidence of a change within, indicating we are not living for ourselves but for others by having an outward focus (Mt 3:8). We can’t work our way to heaven but we should work on our way there! In fact, we are “Created in Christ Jesus to good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Eph 2:10; Tit 2:11-14). Good works are good-will and love in action, fulfilling the ‘golden rule’ of “Doing to others as we would they do to us” (Lk 6:31). Divine love in our heart flowing out to others, is the fulfilling of God’s law (Rom 13:8-10). Being involved in good works is the practical outworking of His nature. Christ “went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with Him” (Act 10:38). "By God’s grace, flourish in all manner of good works…Spurring each other on" (2 Cor 9:8; Heb 10:24). We can’t comprehend the importance of our actions. Our acts of human kindness may have far-reaching repercussions when we are ministering as ‘Jesus in disguise’. The Bible declares the reward for those who persistently do good, fulfilling God’s will including alleviating the plight of those severely disadvantaged by outworking the love of God in practical ways is eternal life (Mt 10:40, 25:31-46; Rom 2:7,8). Good works will result from our relationship with Him and with our sacrifices God is very pleased (Heb 13:16). We honour and worship Him as we love our neighbour, for doing good is manifest in good works (Mk 12:31; Tit 3:8,14).
“The rich, especially, are commanded to do good, to be rich in good deeds” (1 Tim 6:17,18).
Live out the good He has deposited within
“Your labour in the Lord is not in vain…He won’t forget what you have done for others” (Mt 10:42; Lk 6:35, 17:10; 1 Cor 15:58; Gal 6:10; 1 Thes 1:3; Heb 6:10). It is our calling to turn from evil and do good, so that we might inherit a blessing (1 Pet 3:9-12).
We, by good works, can help to soften people’s hearts and silence those who condemn the gospel so they yield to Him, as “It is the kindness of God that leads to repentance” (Rom 2:4; 1 Pet 2:15).
Although acts of kindness should not be done to receive public recognition, a benevolent person will get a reputation (Mt 5:16, 6:1-4; Act 9:36; Col 1:10; 1 Tim 5:10; 1 Pet 2:12). Am I known for the good works I do? In Scripture a ministry of good works, benefiting other people, is contrasted to unprofitable dead works which are of no lasting value (1 Cor 3:12-15, 13:1-3). Christian-based practical development serves as a bridgehead for the gospel, providing authentic relational and servant-hood contexts in which to share Jesus.
Do-gooders are sometimes accused of meddling in the affairs of others, of trying to change them through their actions, having a bigoted or unbending viewpoint and hidden agenda. Any help offered should not be forced onto others by taking over, rather by coming alongside and supporting. We should not do for others what is their responsibility, as this will encourage laziness and dependency, instead assist and maybe show them how to do a particular task so they can do it themselves next time, if they are able. They will gain knowledge and may be able in turn, to help others. Giving help should not be a handout, where the recipient doesn’t extend themselves, rather a hand-up that inspires and enables by empowering them to rise up, grateful of the assistance given, and eager to be self-sufficient. It is seeking the highest good of the other.
Unfortunately some people think they will go to heaven because of the good works they have done, however without having a relationship to Christ it will amount to nothing as entry to heaven is only by the blood of Christ, not human effort or social good acts (Jn 1:12; Act 15:11; Rom 3:22-24; Eph 2:8,9). Good works won’t get us to heaven, however we are expected to work on our way there. They are not the cause of salvation but the effect of salvation.
Works qualify us for rewards, not entrance into heaven
“Work out your salvation (our part) for it is God who works in you (His part) to will and act according to His good purpose” (Phil 2:12,13). It is a joint effort to bring about deliverance and complete victory.