Bro. Dennis Adams
A spiritual life without “Good Works” is like a lake without water, it is dead. We have to put forth an effort to do good works and it does not come easy. It is an every day battle against the flesh. To me personally it is hard to define just what good works is. We have many examples in the Bible that we can refer to and the first one that comes to mind is God with the children of Israel being led out of Israel. God was like a father to them. They could see the light of God day and night guiding them. He provided them with food and protection and they worshipped him and followed the law to the letter. From our reading in Zachariah this time is referenced as a beautiful time in God’s relationship with the children of Israel. Their good works were pleasing unto the Lord and this tells us that good works is the type of work that pleases God. We can labor hard and provide for our family, but this is expected of us. The curse of Adam was that we should work by the sweat of our brows and this will always be until that curse is lifted. But when we do work that pleases God, we are doing “Good Works.”
When I was growing up as a young boy my father always told this saying. “Actions speak plainer than words.” We have seen it in our everyday life with other people. They say one thing but their actions tell you a totally different story. Lips service is an insult. We being brothers and sisters, our yeas are yeas and our nays are nays. When we say we are going to do something then we do it. Our actions should tell people that what we believe in is also our way of life.
We learn a great deal from the stories in the Old Testament, the ones we used to learn in Sunday school and just this last Thanksgiving I was fortunate enough to listen to the speaker at the Ann Arbor gathering bring to life the story of David and Goliath. Here is a young Shepard boy that ends up slaying Goliath. We read in 1 Samuel 17 where David is bringing some food to his brothers just as Goliath is ending a verbal tirade against Jehovah and his army, the army of Saul. This had been going on for over forty days, everyday he would come out and curse God and the army of Israel. David had been expressing his opinion and asking why something hasn’t been done.
We read in verse 28 and 29.
28 And Eliab his eldest brother heard when he spake unto the men; and Eliab's anger was kindled against David, and he said, Why camest thou down hither? And with whom hast thou left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know thy pride, and the naughtiness of thine heart; for thou art come down that thou mightest see the battle.
29 And David said, what have I now done? Is there not a cause?
His oldest brother was really mad at him, but David, in his complete faith in God looked at his brother with amazement that he had been chastised and said. Is there not a cause? Aren’t you fighting mad at the way this Goliath is talking about our God and the very army you are fighting in?
David didn’t dare go and approach Saul in direct opposition of his eldest brother, but words like that would circulate throughout the camp in a manner of hours and it wasn’t too long before he is requested to go before Saul and explain these words. And it is this conversation between Saul and David, we get a partial view of what David‘s feelings and beliefs were as he was growing up as a humble shepherd boy.
31 ¶ And when the words were heard which David spake, they rehearsed them before Saul: and he sent for him.
32 And David said to Saul, Let no man's heart fail because of him; thy servant will go and fight with this Philistine.
33 And Saul said to David, Thou art not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him: for thou art but a youth, and he a man of war from his youth.
34 And David said unto Saul, Thy servant kept his father's sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock:
35 And I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth: and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him, and slew him.
36 Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear: and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, seeing he hath defied the armies of the living God.
37 David said moreover, The LORD that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine. And Saul said unto David, Go, and the LORD be with thee.
If David loses, then the whole nation and army will become slaves and yet Saul gives him his blessing. When David was telling his stories of how God had worked in his life, there could not have been a person there that had not been spiritually uplifted by the overflowing of such enthusiasm. It didn’t matter if it was a young man with no experience or a man inherently weak from old age, with God on his side, who could fail. When we have God behind us we have nothing to fear.
David had seen God’s works and especially in his own life. He had killed a Lion and he had killed a bear. David knew what power he had behind him because in the past he had given God the love and respect that was due him and when he heard this unclean Philistine badmouth his Lord and Creator, it was only right that he should be angry and want to fight this giant. The bear and the Lion were only animals, but here was a human being, thinking and saying words that could only lead to a bad ending. The point I am trying to make is that David had seen God’s good works or actions and this is what gave his the courage and fortitude to fight against insurmountable odds. I don’t think we will ever have to face a situation like David, but when the time comes, I hope we are strong in our goods works will bring God into our personal struggle and give us the help we need. We know we have a God that loves us and will keep the promises that he has made to us and the promise he made to his son for a better time.
David writes in psalms 143: 5
I remember the days of old; I meditate on all thy works; I muse on the work of thy hands.
In this psalm David recollects his youth when he was tending sheep. It must have been a wonderful time for David with no one around to distract him from the beauties of nature. I am sure sat and watched as a bird made her nest or how a tree in spring develops its leaves. He would “muse” on all the wonderful things the creator has created.
The second example of “Good Works” that come to mind as I look at this table here beside me is from our own Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. When we read the life of Christ, every action and every word that he spoke was pleasing to the Father. He is our teacher and great example.
John 5: 36
But I have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me.
Jesus was saying that his actions communicated to everyone around him that he was from the Father. His actions reflected the words of God. We are not from the Father but I hope our actions from day to day tell others who our Master is, the Lord Jesus Christ that we remember the beginning of each week with this bread and wine.
Jesus was asked about “Good Works” in John 6:28
28 ¶ Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?
29 Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.
If we believe in Christ and do the works that he taught us then we can be assured that our lives will be pleasing in the sight of God.
When I was traveling theses last holidays I was confronted with a culture that does not provide social security or welfare for handicapped and unfortunate people. Their only source of income is what they can beg from the streets. They are usually found in the tourist area and they are truly in need. I watched as people would go out of their way to cross the street so that they would not have to hear the begging and plea for help for only a few cents. This was like the parable of the good Samaritan.
30 And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.
31 And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.
32 And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.
33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,
If we walk only on the ”other side” of the road and separate ourselves from those in need then we are like the Levite and the priest that chose to ignore a chance to do “Good Works.
We end up with our last references to “Good Works” in the inspired writings of Paul to the Colossians. .
9 For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;
10 That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;
It would be hard to separate “Good Works” from the Word. To be filled with the knowledge of his will take study and careful reading of his word.
I would like to leave this train of thought with the words of Brother John Marshall and his book called ”The New Life”:
Jesus is our supreme example of good works founded on a firm resolve to give rather than receive: “The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” The divinely motivated giver is more greatly blessed than the received. Thus life in the faith is not lazy, apathetic acceptance of doctrine and a self-righteous enjoyment of the gifts of the Father with little or no thought of sharing with others, but an active manifestation of divine love which seizes every opportunity to serve whenever it is found and needed.
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