God’s Work Versus Good Work

Following Jesus leads to a life of good works. No one doubts that principle as a guiding thought for all Christian service. But is it true?

The problem is that we can miss the Godly part of the equation. Following Jesus leads to a life of good work for the glory of God. Those last five words are important.

Jesus teaches this powerful parable in his longest recorded sermon that believers call “The Sermon on the Mount.” He starts telling his followers about how to be blessed in a section called “The Beatitudes.” Then he instructs those listening to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Jesus wants his disciples to have an impact on the world the same way that salt affects food and light overcomes the darkness. The point is clear for us, do good works, and make a positive impression on the world.

Unfortunately, this is where most people stop. The final line of this part of his teaching is of the utmost significance. “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:16 – NIV 2011) The ultimate goal is for people to worship God because of what you have done. This one statement draws a line for us that we had better not miss.

The difference between doing good work and good work in the name of God is who gets the glory. If, when you are done giving of your time and energy, people walk up and say, “You are such a good person,” then you have just done something good. I would even go so far as to say that if they walk up and say, “Your Church is full of good people,” then they have just performed a good work.

But when people walk up after the work is done and say, “Praise God for his work through you,” then you have done Christian service. When the reaction to your good works is, “Tell me about this Jesus you serve,” then you are on the right track. When the world stops and praises God for your light, then you have done good works for the glory of God.

I watch many people, and their Churches do good works, and for that, I applaud them. My hope is that people will see what we are doing and praise God. Then we are the followers of Jesus.

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