Links Daily Devotional

What Good Is Good?

…you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free. (Ephesians 6:8, NIV)

Sometimes you make the mistake of doing just what you want on the golf course: you hit it close. Happy day!

But you still have to make the putt if you want to mark a birdie on your card. And if you don’t? Well, it’s quite easy to fall into a pitiful funk accompanied by these words: “What good was that?”

Life is bound to have these moments, when we seem to do everything right and then that everything turns into wrong. It’s a frustration and maybe an embarrassment. And when it happens often enough, it can begin to sap the spunk from you.

When we speak not only of doing things right but also of doing things that are good, however, we beg another question. For we are ever mindful of Paul’s oft-repeated words to the Ephesians: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). In response to this passage, antinomian reasoning suggests, If this is true, what is the purpose of righteousness at all? Just let grace do its thing, and I’ll do mine.

But intriguingly it is in the very same letter from the apostle to this church in Ephesus that he makes a case for good works.

First, in verse 10 of that second chapter, Paul wrote that the very thing we are created for, as God’s workmanship, is to do good works. That is, our good works show off the initiative work of the Creator. He made us as he would have us be; and how he would have us be is as people who do good.

Second, as he moved toward the close of his letter, he challenged those whose work was hardest—slaves—to work as unto the Lord (understanding how difficult it was for an indentured one to work unto an over-demanding master). It is in this context that the apostle called all people, slave and free, to do good things. But here the motivation is rewards from the Lord.

Plainly then, the good of doing good is that good will in return come to us from God, who is honored in our goodness. This is not karma, a quid pro quo of righteousness, for as it has been said, we can never outgive God. But it sure looks like a beautiful motivation to me! Let’s keep looking at the Word of God and listening to his voice, finding what good it is that he would have us do. Then, simply, let’s do it.

Jeff Hopper
November 10, 2014
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