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In terms of "good works", what is important and pleases God?

Postby Raw 4 Me » Thu Oct 18, 2018 1:43 pm

In terms of "good works", what is important and pleases God?

I get that we are not saved by good works, but surely good works are important in our lives. But when I think about what would be considered good deeds, something seems counter-intuitive.

If things like helping the poor or contributing to the community are good deeds, then atheists can do this too. I have never seen any pastor fail to point out that atheists can do good but their good can be written off as meaningless.

Or if it's about the heart of those doing these deeds, then the nature/scope/impact of the good deeds is irrelevant (non-believing philanthropists could be doing their work much more effectively than Christians but it wouldn't count).

If heart matters AND general good deeds are not necessarily pleasing to God, then maybe it must be a subset of Christianly good deeds that are pleasing, such as evangelism; helping people in any way without evangelizing (or any other thing that is distinctly Christian) would NOT be pleasing. I guess this is plausible but it means that either our whole lives are filled with these acts or if we don't focus on them then they're probably going to be a relatively minor part of our practical lives. It also means Christians are unable to be do pleasing good deeds until they've reached a very fruitful stage.

Lastly, I would consider: is it possible, just maybe possible, that good deeds performed by non-believers are still pleasing to some extent because they honor God's image?
Raw 4 Me
 

Re: In terms of "good works", what is important and pleases

Postby jimwalton » Fri Nov 02, 2018 8:05 pm

You're right that good works are important in our lives. Paul even goes so far as to say we were created for good works (Eph. 2.10).

What kinds of things? As you mentioned, helping the poor and contributing to the community. The Bible often specifically mentions taking care of the poor, visiting the imprisoned, helping the sick, and clothing the naked. It also mentions caring for orphans and widows, as well as providing food and water for people. It mentions working for justice and peace, as well as giving special attention to anyone who would be considered lower in society ("the least of these"). It's loving and compassionate care for "your neighbor." And of course anyone can do these things, and we should all be glad that is so. Humanity helping humanity is such a high value for all of us.

> I have never seen any pastor fail to point out that atheists can do good but their good can be written off as meaningless.

The pastor would specifically (I should hope) be referring to salvation with a comment like this. Good works do not earn salvation for anyone.

> Or if it's about the heart of those doing these deeds, then the nature/scope/impact of the good deeds is irrelevant

It's tough, if not impossible, to draw these lines. A good deed done with a lousy attitude still helps that other person. Obviously it's best if the deed is worthy and the heart is right, but even if the heart is off, the deed still counts as a good deed (Phil. 1.15-18, for instance).

> If heart matters AND general good deeds are not necessarily pleasing to God

General good deeds ARE pleasing to God, they just don't any points towards salvation.

> Lastly, I would consider: is it possible, just maybe possible, that good deeds performed by non-believers are still pleasing to some extent because they honor God's image?

I would say so, yes. Good deeds are still good deeds, and they please God. They just don't do anything to earn salvation, which is often the subject various texts are addressing.


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