WHAT ARE GOOD WORKS
If you were to take an opinion survey and asked the average person in America "How does a person go to heaven" the majority would say something about works or deeds that they have done. Most people think that God has a huge scale and that if your good works outweigh the bad you have done, you'll get into heaven. I have heard several say, "Well, I'm not perfect but I'm not that bad either."
In our text the Lord instructs us to do good works so that others might
glorify the heavenly Father. From that spring board I want to ask, "What
are good works?" first of all.
I. They are works done by a saved person. v 16 b
Jesus was speaking to people who he had made 'spiritual salt' and 'spiritual light.' He was telling those folks who knew him as Lord and Savior to let their light shine so that their good works would glorify God. Jesus doesn't call everybody 'salt and light' but only his people.
If you run through the New Testament and search the word 'works' you will find quite often a distinction between works and good works. Good works are the activities produced by God and acted out by His people. They cannot be done by a non-Christian because they are not 'salt and light' and have no inner light to 'shine.'
Matthew 7:21-23 "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord" will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' And then I will declare to them, "I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS."
This man called his deeds 'wonderful or miracles', Jesus called them 'works of iniquity or lawlessness.'
Do you have any good works that glorify the Father? Are you zealous to do good works? Those who have been born again have an innate desire to do good works because it is the fruit of God's Spirit flowing in and through them. But if you have no desire to do good works and they seem like a waste of time, it is one evidence that you are not a saved person.---What are good works?
II. They are works motivated by a love for God. v 16 c
Have you ever discussed the difference between incentive and motivation? Many people think that money is a motivator, but it is really only an incentive. The motivation for things or prestige may cause people to desire money but money alone is not a motivator. Well, what motivates good works? What causes a person to want to shine so that the lost world see their good works and glorify their heavenly Father? It is an inner motivation of love for God. It is related to a person's concept of forgiveness. If they know they have received great forgiveness, they love even more.
Luke 7:44-50 And turning toward the woman, He said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I entered your house, you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has wet My feet with her tears, and wiped them with her hair. You gave Me no kiss; but she, since the time I came in, has not ceased to kiss My feet. You did not anoint My head with oil, but she anointed My feet with perfume. For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little," And He said to her, "Your sins have been forgiven." And those who were reclining at table with Him began to say to themselves, "Who is this man who even forgives sins?" And He said the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."
Hebrews 10:24 and let us consider how to simulate one another to love and good deeds.
Why are you attempting to do good works? It should be because you are
a born again Christian who knows you're forgiven and you have a heart full
of love. But many people refuse to do good works because they are tired
or maybe they say, 'I've done my share of the work.' But the Lord in this
text commands us to shine so people will see our good works. If you're
able and you love the Lord, you cannot be happy if you don't work.---What
are good works? Thirdly:
III. They are works done to Glorify God. v 16 c
Our text says, 'Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. Some would like to stop the verse and make it say, 'see your good works' without reference to glorifying the Father. But our text says, our good works are to be seen of all so they can glorify God. All that we are and all that we do is to ultimately glorify God. At first glance this passage may seem to be in opposition to what Jesus says in Mt. 6:1-4. But this passage and the latter passage really say the same thing: Works should not be done for man but for God.
Did you ever stop to think that a light is not supposed to call attention to itself? Light shines to glorify something besides itself. If a light calls attention to itself, it is annoying and one will turn away from it or hide their eyes. But a light can be very bright and simply cause life to be more enjoyable. Light is silent. Its purpose is not to call attention to itself. Its purpose is to glorify others. Our purpose is to call attention to our Father.
Men are to see the works but not the worker. We are not to magnify self but the Savior. You see, we can't be used of the Lord to draw others to Christ if we're more interested in man's praise than being obedient to God.
I Cor, 3:12-15 Now if any man builds upon the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man's work will become evident; for the day will show it, because it is to be revealed with fire; and the fire itself will test the quality of each man's work. If any man's work which he has built upon it remains, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work is burned up, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as through fire.
The illustration of this passage is that works done by a saved person that glorify self gain no reward. Works done for the Glory of God gain a reward.
Today did you teach for the glory of God? Did you sing for the glory
of God? Did I preach for the glory of God? This week, did you witness,
pray, study, etc./ for the glory of God? If so, your labor was not in vain.
What are good works? They are works done by a saved person, they are
works motivated by a love for God, they are works done with an intent to
glorify God. Please come to Him this day.
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And Beyond. Amen? Amen!