In this short article I am going to discuss about the importance of good deeds in Christian life.
Good deeds and faith are two sides of the same coin. Without one the other stands void which is confirmed by Apostle James in the following verses.
14What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. (James 2, 14-17)
In the Christian world especially among Bible believing Christians, the importance of good deeds is seldom stressed or taught from the pulpit.
What we hear all the time from the pulpit is; how to have faith, and how to nurture faith – but nothing much on how to manifest that faith with good deeds.
Deeds or actions are the outward manifestations of the faith inside. As Apostle James says “a faith without deed is dead faith,” that faith is not alive, that faith achieves nothing and reaches nowhere.
Good deeds are an inseparable part of Christian life. Jesus, when he walked up on the earth, emphasised this in His teachings and practised in His daily life. If you want an example: See the following verses:
21Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”( Matthew 19, 21)
As you see, in the above verses, Lord Jesus is asking the rich man to sell all his possessions and give to the poor; an act that will be tremendously rewarding and very pleasing in the eyes of God Almighty.
Recently, I was going through Matthew 25 and what I read in this chapter really made me think for a while; because, it talks about an important event, the one that will determine the eternal destiny of every human being, which will take place at the return of Jesus Christ.
The description of Jesus about that event gives us a clear picture of one of the criteria that will be used for the end-time selection of believers into the kingdom of God.
In this description given in Matthew 25, we see a single group of people (Believers in Christ) standing before Jesus and He separating them into two; one on His right side and the other on His left side.
The ones on the right side is selected to be in His Kingdom solely on the basis of their good deeds and the ones on the left side is rejected without any mercy for the only reason that they did not do anything good for others.
So, in this description, we see Jesus making the selection purely on the basis of good deeds.
In other words, good deeds are the only criterion He uses to decide whether a believer deserves to be in the Kingdom of God or not. The following verses will give you more details on this.
34“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
41“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
46“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” (Matthew 25, 31-46)
In verse 46, we see the ones without any good deeds are being sent away to eternal punishment and the ones with good deeds are being designated as “righteous” and led into eternal life.
• Well, here, you might wonder why serving our fellow-human beings is equal to serving God?
• Or why God almighty requires us to do good to our fellow – human beings?
It is because, we are created in God’s own image and likeness, we, human beings are His dear children. Each one of us is precious and honourable in his sight.
Each time when we do something good to others, we are doing it unto HIM. The verses below prove this truth.
40“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ (Matthew 25, 40)
Next, let us look at a few more scriptures that talk about the importance of “good deeds”
In Isaiah 58, we see The LORD Almighty speaking to the Israelites about the importance of good deeds.
Let us examine the verses below for more details.
6“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? 7Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? (Isaiah 58, 6-7)
Like the contemporary Christians, those days the Israelites too were very keen to observe all the traditions and rituals related to worship. However, they were not interested in good deeds, they were not compassionate enough to help their fellow – Israelites who were suffering.
But God Almighty was really displeased with their behavior and He, through prophet Isaiah, clearly states what pleases Him and what He expects them to do.
In verses 6 and 7, God Almighty is asking the Israelites to focus more on good deeds than sacrifices and rituals.
Saints, remember, the LORD Almighty is not pleased with your Sunday dancing and songs, He is not moved by your tract distribution and Sunday school teaching, He is not pleased by the bumper stickers behind your car.
Loose the chains of injustice – that is: when you see injustice around you, fight against it – don’t leave saying “it is not my business”
Remove the Yokes – There are people around you who are burdened by the yokes of life – help them remove those yokes from their shoulders.
Set the oppressed free – There are people around you, even in your church who are oppressed for various reasons – it can be poverty, unemployment, sickness, abusive partners, harmful addictions etc. – give them a helping hand.
Feed the hungry – There are people around you who are hungry but unable to let others know. Look for such people, find them and feed them.
Provide shelter for the homeless – There are people around you who are homeless, help them find a place to lay their head.
Clothe the naked – There are people around you who don’t have enough clothes to wear, find those people and share with them what you have.
In the contemporary Christian world believers are proud of their faith and even do not hesitate to brag about it. But often they are ignorant or pretending to be ignorant about the responsibility that comes with that same “faith”.
23“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. 24You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel. (Matthew 23, 23-24)
We, believers are very diligent in practicing our faith inside the church. We take part in church activities and pay our tithes diligently but outside the church we are just like anyone else on the street.
We don’t show mercy or kindness to our fellow human beings.
We don’t care about the widows and orphans in the church.
We don’t bother to enquire or help those who are sick in the congregation.
Like the Pharisees, we diligently and deliberately ignore the weightier matters of the law – Justice, Mercy and Faithfulness.
Saints, we need to make our FAITH alive by diligently practicing what that FAITH demands.
See what Apostle James says:
27Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.(James 1, 27)
So, as I mentioned earlier, faith and deeds are two sides of the same coin and one without the other is empty and it does not serve any purpose.
In addition to Matthew 25, 31-46, there are many other scriptures that confirm the above truth.
The following Bible verse is just one more example.
24You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.(James 2, 24)
Saints, please remember LORD Almighty, by His Grace, brought us into HIS Kingdom for the purpose of doing good works and we need to live according to this calling.
10For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2, 10)
We are like the fig tree in the vineyard of God Almighty and we need to bear good fruits. We cannot be like the fig tree on the roadside that appeared to be healthy and strong with full of leaves but no fruits. Amen.