Created for a Life of Good Works
By faith, I am to believe that I am in Christ and Christ is in me. What the phrase “I am in Christ” means, is that I live my life in company with Christ; and “Christ is in me” means Christ is living His life in me. Does Christ living His life in me mean that He has taken control of my life? No. He does not take control over my life. I am still in control. He still honours me with His gift of free choice. It is up to me to choose whether to allow Him to take precedence or not. I have to affirm through thousands of choices—my will or His will; my life (the old man) or His life (the new man). Is it NO to myself and YES to Him? Since I am in control of my life, why do I want to put on the new man or to purify myself? As St John says, “. . everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 John 3:3 NKJV). Thus the man, who knows that he has eternal life and that he is going to face God, will purify his life. He will strive for holiness and for righteousness. But he is not left to his own effort to purify himself. With His power and the certainty of eternal life, he knows that he can live the kind of life that Christ wants him to live.
And what is this kind of life?
- To be holy
· “Be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:16 NKJV)
· “. . seek to live a clean and holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord.” (Hebrew 12:14 NLT)
· “Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48 NKJV)
· “Keep yourself in training for a godly life.” (1 Timothy 4:7 TEV)
· “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled” (Matthew 5:6 NKJV)
- To love
· “Whoever loves is a child of God and knows God.”(1 John 4:7 TEV)
· “Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love”(1 John 4:8 TEV).
· “love one another, because love comes from God”(1 John 4:7 TEV).
· “If you have love for one another, then everyone will know that you are My disciples.”(John 13:35 TEV)
· “If you love Me, you will obey My commandments.”(John 14:15 TEV)
· “You have heard that it was said, ‘love your friends, hate your enemies’. But now I tell you; love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may become the children of your Father in heaven. . . You must be perfect–just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:43-48 TEV)
· “If your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them a drink; for by doing this you will make them burn with shame.”(Romans 12:20 TEV)
· “Do everything possible on your part to live in peace with everybody. Never take revenge, my friends, but instead let God’s anger do it.” (Romans 12:18-19 TEV)
· “if you love others, you will never do them wrong“(Romans 13:10 TEV)
· “Show your love by being tolerant with one another” (Ephesians 4:2 TEV)
· “Be kind and tender-hearted to one another, and forgive one another, as God has forgiven you through Christ.” (Ephesians 4:32 TEV)
- To be zealous for good works.
· “Our people must learn to spend their time doing good, in order to provide for real needs; they should not live useless lives.” (Titus 3:14 TEV)
· “This is a true saying. I want you to give special emphasis to these matters, so that those who believe in God may be concerned with giving their time to doing good deeds, which are good and useful for everyone.” (Titus 3:8 TEV)
· “Let us be concerned for one another, to help one another to show love and to do good.” (Hebrew 10:24 TEV)
· “God has made us what we are, and in our union with Christ Jesus he has created us for a life of good deeds, which he has already prepared for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10 TEV)
· “who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.”( Titus 2:14NKJV)
· “Command them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share with others.” (1 Timothy 6:18 TEV)
· “. . .having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.” (1 Peter 2:12 NKJV)
· “. . faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” (James 2:17 NKJV)
· “For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men;” (1 Peter 2:15 NKJV)
· “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16 KJV)
As Christians we are very conscious of the constant struggle within us—our flesh against our spirit. We know that we have received the Holy Spirit and that Christ is in us and that our spirit has been redeemed but our physical body and mind are not yet totally redeemed, they belong to the world and “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life;” (1 John 2:16 NKJV) are still inherent in us. In “the pride of life” we often do good works to obtain recognition, power, prestige or fame. We have our earthly rewards. Our spirit wants us to do the righteous things but our physical body loves the world and is still under the dominion of sin. If we rely entirely on our own strength, ability and energy to be godly, we will be doomed to failure. What then do we do when we have problems wanting to live the holy life? Go to Christ and He will give us the power to live it. He will give us the strength. We will be empowered. We must stop talking and thinking about our weakness: We must talk more of His power! We must realise that Christ is in us with all this power: the power that enabled Him to resist the temptations of the devil is the power that is in us. We must remind ourselves:
· “For God has . . .given us a spirit . . . of power and of love and of a sound mind.”(2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV)
· “how very great is his power at work in us who believe. This power working in us is the same as the mighty strength which he used when he raised Christ from death and seated him at his right side in the heavenly world.” (Ephesians 1:19-20 TEV)
· “To him who by means of his power working in us is able to do so much more than we can ever ask for, or even think of” (Ephesians 3:20 TEV)
· “To get this done I toil and struggle, using the mighty strength which Christ supplies and which is at work in me.” (Colossians 1:29 TEV)
· “Out of the fullness of his grace he has blessed us all, giving us one blessing after another.” (John 1:16 TEV)
We find our Lord constantly saying to us, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink” (John 7:37 NKJV). Here the word `come’ has the sense of `keep on coming’, so what He says is: `If any man thirsts, let him keep on coming to Me to drink.’ Let us be practical: If we find ourselves at some time, at any point in our life in this world, tired, weary, stressed out, not only physically, emotionally, mentally but also spiritually, what do we do about it? Well, Christ tells us to go to Him! He is in us, dwelling in us. Go to Him as we would go to a well to draw water—go to Him in our heart. Tell Him about our thirst and our weakness, our lethargy and our helplessness, and ask Him to give us His life-giving water, to give us this heavenly bread: to give us Himself. He pledges to do that, but we will only know it for ourselves if we realise that He is in us, and as we go and turn to Him in our heart.
A simple rule to help us every morning when we wake up: the first thing we do is say to ourselves, `I am a child of God. I am not alone because Christ dwells in me. That old self is gone: I died with Christ. “I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me.” Everything I do today, everything I think and say, must be in the light of this knowledge.’ Keep Him in front of our mind and heart and pray to Him. Eat His flesh and drink His blood in the Holy Eucharist. Be constantly abiding in Him, dwelling in Him and living in Him. Living by means of His power; living with Him and living for Him. The world will do its utmost to prevent us from doing so but “every child of God is able to defeat the world. And we win the victory over the world by means of our faith” (1 John 5:4 TEV). That means that we should realise constantly that He is in us, dwelling in our hearts by our faith. We are in Christ and Christ is in us. He is living His life in us to transform us to be “His own special people, zealous for good works”!
Mother Teresa defines good works to include such things: “I would like it very much if our Co-Workers, each in his or her own immediate environment, would concentrate more and more on giving service freely and generously to the poor. Let each of them seek out those who live alone, who lack affection, those cut off, in any way, and try to see in them the suffering Christ.
“Give some a smile, visit someone for a short time, make a fire for someone who is cold, read something to someone. These are small things, very small, but they will make your love for God more concrete.” (Stories of Mother Teresa, 61)
Again, Father Henri Nouwen shows us how we can choose to do good works in the little things we do every day: “We choose love by taking small steps of love every time there is an opportunity. A smile, a handshake, a word of encouragement, a phone call, a card, an embrace, a kind greeting, a gesture of support, a moment of attention, a helping hand, a present, a financial contribution, a visit—all these are little steps toward love.
“Each step is like a candle burning in the night. It does not take the darkness away, but it guides us through the darkness. When we look back after many small steps of love, we will discover that we have made a long and beautiful journey.” (Bread for the Journey, June 15)
Martin Luther asserts that the excellent works are “To serve one another in love, i.e., to instruct the erring, to comfort the afflicted, to raise the fallen, to help one’s neighbor in every possible way, to bear with his infirmities, to endure hardships, toil, ingratitude in the Church and in the world, and on the other hand to obey government, to honor one’s parents, to be patient at home with a nagging wife and an unruly family, these things are not at all regarded as good works. The fact is, they are such excellent works that the world cannot possibly estimate them at their true value.” (Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians, 217)
Finally, let us learn to:
1. Trust God and His promises in His Word
2. Trust and depend on Christ and His power
3. Trust and remember, constantly, the truth that,
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13 NKJV).