Of the nine fruits of the Spirit mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23, “Goodness” is sixth on the list and the list is quite impressive. You could say it is the “what’s what” for character qualifies. It includes love, faithfulness and self-control to mention just a few. Despite the association, however, Christians do not discuss in detail or demonstrate often the quality of goodness as Jesus exhibited it. Christians, particularly of the fundamental version, are very concerned about being right but have little interest in being good.
Non-Christians, on the other hand, are often more visibly involved with good deeds of a humanitarian type. When Christians don’t follow suit (and even speak against doing so) the non-Christians are first confused, then become angry, act betrayed and finally become cynical about God, the Bible, church and anything else associated with Christianity. And the Christian response to this situation is a bit callous. We take issue with the offense.
There is a reason for this attitude. The one thing all Christians understand foremost is the freeness of salvation. God saved us because He was merciful, with no consideration for any good that we have done. In fact, the Bible clearly teaches that no one is good enough and, therefore, good deeds do not figure into our salvation one bit. Therefore, talking about doing good deeds after freely being saved almost feels like a compromise.
When non-Christian organizations engage in altruistic activities we snicker and huff as if we know something they don’t. When they suggest we do the same we rally to the cause of theological purity as if that is a good reason not to care about people who desperately need the basic necessities of life.
Sadly, Christians tend to be theologoically restricted. Any activity, which does not lead directly to salvation or to an understanding of some eternal truth or to a commitment to church activity, is seen as spiritually barren or insipid. Humanitarian activities are not considered the spiritually “manly” thing to do.
And when Christians (or others) do act in humanitarian ways there is always a catch. It is never done without ulterior motive. The supply of help is conditional. People must qualify on some spiritual level before we help them.
- Is the person who needs help a Christian?
- If so, is the person a good Christian?
- If not, do we have reason to believe they will become a good Christian (i.e., tithe) if we help?
- If not a Christian, do we have reason to believe they will seriously consider Christianity if we help?
Our help should rather be strategic not conditional. Providing material assistance may (or may not) open the door for spiritual ministry but it does put us in a good light and makes what we have to say important.
But, we should do good whether the door opens or not. Jesus made that clear. In fact, God is good to every person and many of them still reject His love.
Truth: the Bible says a lot about doing good deeds and the understanding is, we should do them because it is the right thing to do. A few verses will suffice to make the point but a thorough study reveals the enormity of the topic.
Peter described Jesus ministry as “going about doing good” (Acts 10:38) and the Gospel record shows Him doing as much good materially as He did spiritually. We are expected to do the same.
In John 5:28-29 Jesus said,
“Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear my voice and come out– those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.”
Obviously, in the mind of Jesus, doing good was not a secondary issue.
In Romans 2: 9-10 Paul echoed these sentiments.
“There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile, but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.”
In Ephesians 2:10 Gods intent regarding good works is clearly seen.
“We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works…”
One last verse reveals that we must do good deeds for everyone, not just the chosen few.
“Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” (Galatians 6:10)
Disclaimer: The Bible does not teach nor am I suggesting that salvation is the result of good deeds but clearly the Bible does teach that good deeds will be the evidence of salvation.
Good involves both spiritual deeds and material deeds. Both have eternal implications. Our activities, however, are usually heavily weighted toward the spiritual (witnessing, teaching Bible truth, worship, teaching Sunday school, etc.) sometimes to the exclusion of the material.
The content of the Gospels, however, reveals a heavy emphasis on the material side of things. Jesus healed the sick constantly and fed the hungry in great numbers. The people He helped materially were not followers in the strict sense of the word before or after He assisted them. In some cases they were hateful after being helped. And what He did in His ministry is what He taught we should do in ours.
Jesus said we should do good to people that hate us, even lending to them (Matt. 5:44-45; Luke 6:35) only because they need it, never because they deserve it. When we do, He said we are acting like God.
Jesus broke the law when He healed a man on the Sabbath and He said it was justified because He was doing a good humanitarian deed. The implication? It is evil to fail to meet desperate material needs when we can, even on a holy day. The religious leaders responded by making plans to kill Him. Obviously, religiously rigid people don’t easily catch on.
Jesus taught that the second of the two great commandments is “love your neighbor as you love yourself” and in the Sermon on the Mount He said, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” These statements are not difficult to understand but they are very easy to smoke screen.
A lawyer, who was very familiar with these teachings, attempted to confuse the issue by asking one qualifying question: who is my neighbor? In response Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). The point?
- Doing good, even in the material sense, shoiuld be an automatic response.
- Everyone is a neighbor even those you love to hate.
- It will cost time, money and effort (very inconvenient) but it is the right thing to do.
Bottom line? Being neutral in the face of material human need is nothing but selfishness even when whitewashed by the appearance of spiritual good.
What “good” are you doing? What do you THINK!AboutIt?