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Good Works

Posted on June 23, 2016 at 11:25 AM


Is it enough for a Christian to just “do something good”?


A question that seems to be up-to-date. And has not even Jesus Himself said that we shall acknowledge them by their fruit? So if the fruit are good, is the plant good too?


Unfortunately, Christians today seem to have a tendency to throw everything in the “love pool”. If it’s “love” and/or if it includes doing something good for others, it is alright. Or is it.


Not so fast.


Somebody that “does something good” is – at best – a “good” person, but not automatically a Christian. Neither does the end (“good fruit”) justify the means.


Both in the Old and the New Testament God made it very clear that the heart matters. It is in the heart where evil begins and it is the heart that has to be in when “good works” are done. Without love, all is nothing.


God knew about our confused hearts and minds that get distracted very easily, so he gave us a plan, a guide line of what we should do and what we should abstain from. Yes, it is all about love and “doing good”, but God’s way, not ours.


It is in the Bible that we get a solid definition of what is love and what it means to ”do good”.


“The traditional enumeration of the corporal works of mercy is as follows:

To feed the hungry; To give drink to the thirsty; To clothe the naked; To harbour the harbourless; To visit the sick; To ransom the captive; To bury the dead.


The spiritual works of mercy are:

To instruct the ignorant; To counsel the doubtful; To admonish sinners;To bear wrongs patiently; To forgive offences willingly; To comfort the afflicted; To pray for the living and the dead.


Any material favour done to assist the needy, and prompted by charity, is almsgiving. It is evident, then, that almsgiving implies much more than the transmission of some temporal commodity to the indigent. According to the creed of political economy, every material deed wrought by man to benefit his needy brother is almsgiving. According to the creed of Christianity, almsgiving implies a material service rendered to the poor for Christ's sake. Materially, there is scarcely any difference between these two views; formally, they are essentially different. This is why the inspired writer says: "Blessed is he that considers the needy and the poor" (Psalm 40:2) — not he that gives to the needy and the poor.

The obligation of almsgiving is complementary to the right of property"which is not only lawful, but absolutelynecessary"“

(Source: www.newadvent.org)


If you truly love someone God’s way, you want the best for him. The best according to God’s standards. This also includes “tough love” if necessary – telling someone the things he or she needs to hear and not only what he or she wants to hear.


Moral relativism where everybody defines for himself or herself what is good, right, truthful and morally acceptable is the virus that has inflicted our society. When we want a godly definition of “good” according to God, we need to agree on a common Christian basis and common Christian beliefs though, else this “good” is just a wishy-washy term.


The corporal and spiritual works of mercy also imply the principle of subsidiarity – we should only help someone if he or she cannot help himself/herself, and only so they can restore their own functioning. If someone needs help, the next upper level has to jump in, and only if this level is unable to, the next higher one and so forth.


If we accept the notion that somehow doing something good is enough, then this might lead us to absurd consequences. To lead that train of thought to the extreme: If a fascist organization helps building a kindergarten, we need to reject that offer, however “good” the result might be. The end does not justify the means - the means have to point to the end. Accepting something unacceptable means condoning it and making it socially and religiously acceptable, if we want that or not. The worst case scenario so to speak.


Finally our motivation: We need to constantly check our heart whey we do something good: Why are we doing it? Are we doing it so WE feel better? Then we would abuse of the person in need.


Even if we have a pure and godly motivation and do the corporate and spiritual works of mercy, we should never forget that grace and truth need to be at an even level. If you have too much grace, you are prone to believe in superstition. If there is too much truth, you forget about the object of truth and the reason thereof.




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