Good Deeds From The Heart
By Eli Stutzman
May 1, 2010
Following the recent earthquake in Haiti, agencies from all over the world swooped into the country and set up rescue efforts as well as feeding and tending to the health needs of those caught in the disaster. Some of these aid workers were Christian, many were not. Canada and The USA had their armed forces involved.
Had you asked them "Why are you here", they might have said, "I was ordered to serve here". It might have been part of their job description. You would expect all kinds of replies.
Some were probably Jewish, some Muslim, and some were simply government employees.
Rest assured, if you or I had been caught in the rubble of a collapsed building, we would not have been too concerned who got us out. Just get me out, we'll talk later. A good deed is always a good deed, no matter who does it.
In our life in this country, we also have good deeds done by non-Christian people. There is no denying that a life saved is a good deed, no matter who did it. For example, if someone does free housing, dental or medical work among those who cannot afford it, that is good. But how shall we know whether a good deed indicates faith?
Likewise, in a church we have people doing good deeds. Some do it out of faith in Jesus Christ, some for other reasons. Two people may do exactly the same thing, yet for entirely different reasons.
A believer's deeds can be copied exactly by another person but that does not make that person a believer. Sometimes good unbelievers outdo believers. That does not make a good deed a bad deed.
Now, we expect a believer to have good deeds because in James 2; 14 it says What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? Can faith save him?
In a church, when people are doing good deeds, can we then assume that they have faith? If not, how shall we know the difference?
I remember during my school days, a hobo walked up the road by our schoolhouse. He, in an effort to distract the unwanted attention he was getting from the entire crowd said "Your schoolhouse is on fire." We assured him it was not. He then asked "Is that not smoke?" pointing to the chimney. "Of course" said we. "Where there's smoke, there's fire" he replied. That was the first time I recall hearing that saying.
But in the real world, smoke can be faked.
Just as there has to be real fire to make real smoke, so there has to be real faith to make real good works. But as can be seen above, works can be counterfeited.
If your life lacks works matching your expected faith, and someone points it out, do you then proceed to do good deeds? That is so easy to do and it satisfies the observer. Therein lies a problem. If you insist on a set of works, I can easily fulfill that. It does not solve the problem at hand.
If your faith is weak, it needs to be made stronger. How do you go about doing that? If you want smoke, you have to work on the fire. Faith underlies works as fire underlies smoke.
1 John 3:17 says; But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?
Clearly, if God's love lives in us, it will spill out. But let it come from faith.
Therefore if your faith needs building up, you will need to go to God's word; that is the Bible.
Romans 10; 17 says; So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
That is the reason we always tell you to base your faith on what is written in the Bible. Otherwise, you too will have smoke without the fire, or deeds without the faith.
If faith underlies my works, I will have to say, "Jesus asked me to do this." Otherwise, I am no better than the employee that does it for pay.
So we can conclude that the words have to be there as well as the deeds.
May we cry out as did the father in Mark 9:24 And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.
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