There is no life of following Jesus that exists apart from good works. Good works are acts of service, compassion, generosity, kindness, and mercy.
Ephesians 2:8 says,
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.
God saved you through the sacrifice of Jesus by His grace alone. But that’s not the end of your journey. God wants to do so much more in your life.
“IT’S ANTITHETICAL TO THINK YOU COULD BE A CHRIST FOLLOWER AND NOT HAVE SOME MEASURE OF GOOD WORKS OPERATIONAL IN YOUR LIFE.”
In these passages, Paul reveals we are to be:
1. Zealous for good works
Zeal is passion, fervor, or enthusiasm.
Picture a super fan at a sports game, most likely covered from head to toe in the colors and logos of their team, determined to never miss a game.
They’re passionately supporting and investing in their team–that’s a picture of zeal.
The word Paul uses in this passage also means to emulate or imitate. This isn’t just true of sports fans, but of all of us.
Whatever you worship, you will become like.
You will take on the attributes of whatever it is that has captured your heart. Through his letters, Paul’s desire is for your heart to be captured by the one from whom good works originate.
In any of his letters, Paul never says be generous and compassionate because these are good things in themselves.
His reasoning is always to remind you to have the gospel reignite your imagination, so that you will see the beauty of God and be compelled to pursue Him.
Your zeal for good works will be directly proportionate to how much you feel you’ve been forgiven of.
Luke 7:47 says,
Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.
It’s really hard to show grace and mercy to other people when you feel like you’ve earned it yourself. So when you find your heart a little hardened toward people, could it be you feel like you’ve earned something?
The grace of God levels the playing field for us all. When you see how God, through Jesus, has been gracious to you, you are gracious to other people. You become an imitator of God our Father.
2. Ready for good works
You should be intentional, prepared, and expectant for the opportunity to be compassionate to someone. Good works should not just be something you do when your heart is moved, but something you consistently make space for.
Part of biblical stewardship is not consuming everything God has given you in life.
In Leviticus 19:9-10, God reveals an important truth through Moses:
When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, neither shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. And you shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the Lord your God.
When you spend everything you have on yourself, you have nothing to share with people in need.
This could go beyond finances. Are you leaving margin with your time and energy?
Often the reason we struggle to be generous is because we have nothing left. We leave ourselves without capacity or readiness for generosity.
God wants to use you: For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:10).
If an opportunity to be generous arose, would you be ready?
You’ll be amazed at how the Holy Spirit will speak to you when you’re ready for Him to speak.
3. Devoted to good works
Being devoted means sticking with something through thick and thin. You are called to be deeply committed to compassion and generosity both in good times and bad times.
Have you ever thought,“If I had more, I could be generous?” If so, you’re not alone. But generosity and compassion are not just for those who have abundance (See 1 Timothy 5).
Compassion is something that all of us can and should be a part of.
Don’t wait until you have extra to be generous.
Maybe you’re in a season where money is tight but you have more time. Give your time. Be devoted to compassion wherever you’re at with whatever you have.
In tough times, there is so much power in getting your eyes off of yourself and trusting God to meet your needs right where you’re at.
Say yes to generosity. God showed you compassion, now it’s your turn to give that to others.