Ever feel unmotivated to do the right thing? Today’s message is about how scripture answers and question, and provides the drive to do the right thing even when it seems thankless.
Jeremiah 29:4–7 (NIV) 4 This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. 6 Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. 7 Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”
Galatians 6:10 (NIV) 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
1 Thessalonians 5:15 (NIV) 15 Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else.
Acts 20:35 (NIV) 35 In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”
Matthew 5:43–45 (NIV) 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
Q. Since we have been delivered from our misery by grace through Christ without any merit of our own, why then should we do good works?
A. Because Christ, having redeemed us by his blood, is also restoring us by his Spirit into his image, so that with our whole lives we may show that we are thankful to God for his benefits,1 so that he may be praised through us,2 so that we may be assured of our faith by its fruits,3 and so that by our godly living our neighbors may be won over to Christ.4
1 Rom. 6:13; 12:1-2; 1 Pet. 2:5-10 2 Matt. 5:16; 1 Cor. 6:19-20 ³ Matt. 7:17-18; Gal. 5:22-24; 2 Pet. 1:10-11 ? Matt. 5:14-16; Rom. 14:17-19; 1 Pet. 2:12; 3:1-2 – Heidelberg Catechism Q & A 86
It is not enough when one can say, ‘Oh I work, I have my trade, I set the pace.’ This is not enough; for one must be concerned whether it is good and profitable to the community and if it is able to serve our neighbors. – John Calvin
We live and work in a society of great political and religious polarization. States are described as being red or blue. Political pundits label us conservative or liberal. Demographers identify us in terms of economic strata: upper, middle, or lower class. The people we encounter in our work every day often see the world very differently than we do. Yet in and through our vocations we have the opportunity to extend common grace to others, and in doing so we foster the common good. In the rich soil of common grace, the common good flourishes and the truths of the gospel are lived out before attentive ears and watchful eyes. John Piper puts things in proper perspective when he states, “Our aim is to joyfully magnify Christ—to make him look great by all we do. Boasting only in the cross, our aim is to enjoy making much of him by the way we work.” 6 Our Christian mission in the late modern world is not only to boldly proclaim saving grace, but also to eagerly and joyfully extend common grace to all. It is often in the fertile soil of common grace where the seed of saving grace takes root, and it is often in and through our vocations that we have the opportunity to indwell common grace for the common good. – Tom Nelson
Work should be done in full remembrance that initial salvation or conversion is in the first place a gift of God’s grace. It is not a debt God owes to us. Therefore we can neither work nor worm our way into God’s graces, and we shouldn’t ever see work as a means of doing so, or as a means of making amends, or as a means of atoning for things we’ve done wrong. Work has no capacity to convert us, nor can it compensate for our lack of salvation, nor can the doing of it make God an offer he can’t refuse. However, work done in service to God, as a grateful response to God’s grace, can be a great good. It can help feed, clothe, and even save the world. As we have said previously as well, “working out our salvation” that God has worked into us can be said to be part of our work. The will of God for our lives is sanctification, and what we do affects that sanctification (see 1 Thess. 4). And here is where I add that the ultimate expression of holiness of heart and life, the ultimate expression of sanctification, is doing the will of God, which is to say doing the ministry he has called each of us to do. What is interesting is that if we focus on the doing of the ministry, sanctification happens as a byproduct of that focus, but if we focus on ourselves and our sanctification, ministry may never happen. Ministry, you see, is other-directed. – Ben Witherington III