Do you ever feel like you’re in a race to rack up as many “good” points as you can before you die? Maybe we think that God keeps a running tally of how many good things we do and our status in heaven depends on where we rank. And when we do “bad” things, when we make mistakes, He deducts points from our total so that we have to work even harder to get that number back up.
I think these thoughts can be especially true for women because we tend to compare ourselves to the women around us. If we aren’t doing everything our neighbor or coworker or church friend is doing, then there must be something wrong with us. We’ve got to pick up the pace! Or so we think.
Some believe that faith and works are not intertwined and that if you have faith, you do not necessarily have to do good works because your faith has secured a place for you in heaven. There’s more to living a life that glorifies God than just believing, though.
The truth is, we are supposed to do good things. We are to let our good deeds be a physical example of the faith we have in God and the work He is doing in and through us. James says in his letter to the first-century Jewish Christians scattered in various areas outside of Palestine:
What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well” – but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. (James 2:14-17)
To me, this is one of the most vivid and practical examples of how to put our faith to work. What good does it do to wish someone well when they are struggling, but not do anything to help them?
However, the number of good things we do is not the most important part – it’s the amount of love we put into our actions that counts. If we do something to help another person purely out of what we think is our God-expected obligation, it’s not completely useless, but it will not accomplish as much as it could if we had done the good deed with a heart of love.
So, the key is to not try to reach 100,000,000 good deeds before we die in order to win a prize in heaven, but to do good, caring, loving things for people because the love of God is alive in us. If we do these things with a pure heart, the positive effect of our actions will be profound and lasting. It’s not enough just to read the words, highlight and underline and write all through our Bibles – we have to put hands and feet to those words and take action.
Here’s to good deeds done from hearts of love!