Saturday, December 02, 2006

Has anyone seen that good work I left laying around?

I was out other night at the Contented Cow with a few of my brothers, taking the opportunity to get together and talk about our favorite subject, the Word. There is always a topic that seems to stick around afterwards, and this was no exception. This night it was good works. And sheep. And goats. Ouch.

For example, when was the last time you helped the poor? Frankly I can't remember the last time I have done so. Sure I have been to a big city in days past and given cash to someone on the street. But is getting held up at a stop light and giving a buck to some guy that 'washes' your windshield helping the poor? Throwing a few coins in a guitar case? The fact is I don't even know if they were actually poor or not. For all I know they went home to a warm house and full meal. I sure hope they did, but the the point is that we can't do good deeds - we don't even know what the real effect of our actions will be. Giving a few bucks to someone may buy them a bottle of something, or it could buy a hot meal - we often don't know.

Works that spring from true faith always work as the Lord intends - the ultimate outcome is that they will be good and we may never even be aware that we are doing them. For Matthew writes in his gospel "Then the righteous will answer him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?" (Matt 25:37) This goes hand in hand with the passage in James' epistle "For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also." (James 2:26) These passages tell us that if we are saved God will produce good works in us, for these are truly the only 'good' works, those works that are done through us but from the Lord.

There is much talk these days about community service, and at work we are getting mauled with our latest United Way campaign. Sometimes I wonder if our productivity at this time of year doesn't plummet with all the activities surrounding this. But that is a topic for another day. Those that contribute are they sheep - or goats? Side by side they can do the same things, though one is thrown in the fire and the other justified by the faith that produces these same works. Thus it isn't the deed but the source that makes the work good. Trust in the Lord - for He is good.

1 comment:

Not Alone +++ PAS said...

Good post, Ron!

Has anyone seen your good work?

Indeed, your Lord has, for He produced it in you with your baptism. He made all your works good in connection with His goodness imparted to you by the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Truly Satan loves to lead us to focus upon what we do and don't do, for then we are no longer looking to the cross of Christ. Yes, we need to consider our works so that we see how foul they are by their own worth. Yet this properly serves only to direct us away from our efforts to the fulfillment of all righteousness that is ours in Christ.

Then we rejoice always, as St. Paul urges. For then we see our lives as good in connection with the One who is good. Then even our failures of greatest magnitude do not defeat us (and these are often the things that we first count as our greatest achievements).

Rest in the goodness of the coming Lord, who comes to you in your baptism, in His Holy Supper, and in daily activity of the Holy Spirit as He directs you to the Word of Life.

Look to His work of love on the cross, and you will find yourself living His love toward others, without even trying.