Though I am saved by grace, not works, it is a defective view of grace that says to my heart that works don’t really matter. That at best, they’re for ‘extra credit’.
Scripture tells us in Psalm 37:3 – “Trust in the Lord, and do good.” (Forget John 3:16 – this is the true ‘gospel in a nutshell’.) God indeed saves me by simple faith and trust. But once God makes me his own by grace, he expects a return on his investment.
We love the first half of Ephesians 2:8-10 which says: “It is by grace you have been saved, through faith…not by works, so that no one can boast.” But we seldom go on to read what Paul says next. “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
Paul insists that we are not saved by service, but for service. Once my sin is covered, once I am saved (which happens when I admit my sinfulness, believe Jesus suffered and died for me, and call on him to forgive me and lead my life), then Jesus turns me around to a hurting, broken world and says, “My child, I’ve saved you to bring my goodness into this world.”
So I do good works not to get saved, but because I am saved. My good works are the fruit of the seed of salvation that has been securely planted in my heart. “I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit,” he says to each one of us (John 15:16). When I show the character and virtue of Christ in the things that I do – his love, his joy, his peace, his patience, his kindness – we call those things the “fruit of the Spirit.”
Every good deed I do in the name of Jesus, every act of ministry and service, is a thank you card to Jesus for saving me from hell. Titus 2:14 says, “Jesus gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness, and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.” And so I’ve been saved to serve, I’ve been healed to help, I’ve been blessed to be a blessing. Go and find a way to live that out today.