Good deeds/works or rather charity can be a tricky subject throughout all of the denominations of the Christian realm, but what does that mean? How and why is or isn’t it relevant in today’s world? Do we work towards our spiritual faith or our worldly faith? Many may think they know the answers to these questions, but perhaps never have thought much of the perspective that will be presented in this bite size portion of Our Weekly Wisdom. Surprisingly each person, depending what denomination of faith they have been raised in, may have a variation of answers to these questions. Now charity from the Merriam Webster Dictionary is defined as:
Benevolent goodwill toward or love of humanity
Generosity and helpfulness especially toward the needy or suffering; also : aid given to those in need
From the definition we see that the term charity is an action of giving or doing for those in need. Many will rationalize that we are justified only by faith due to one verse from Romans 3:28. From that verse Paul taught that all are “justified by faith without the deeds of the law.” Hold on a moment, let’s back up to Matthew 5:17 pertaining to what Christ said about the law:
Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
Christ never said that the law was nullified or void, meaning it is still active. Now of course Christ summarized and said the greatest of them is to “love God and love your neighbor as yourself.” So doesn’t that mean that the law is still applicable but summarized under the two greatest laws? It makes sense that way because if one is truly doing the proper acts to love each other they will not violate the other laws. If one cares and loves thy neighbor they would not steal or murder, right? I’d certainly hope not!! If one is truly abiding by those greatest commandments, it would be easy and one wouldn’t have to think twice to uphold the rest of them.
So why is upholding the law important? Let’s look at James 2:14-26 –
My brethren, What shall it profit though someone says that they have faith and do not have works? Shall this type of faith be able to save them? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says unto them, Depart in peace; be ye warmed and filled; but ye do not give them those things which are needful for the body; what shall it profit them? Even so faith, if it does not have works, is dead in and of itself. But someone may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works; show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that God is one; thou doest well; the demons also believe and tremble. But, O vain man, dost thou desire to know that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar? Dost thou not see how the faith worked together with his works, and the faith was complete by the works? And that the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness, and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not only by faith. Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she received the messengers and sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
In this passage we see the how and why works are important and intrinsically linked to faith. We even see the fact that the demons believe and have faith. That should speak volume to the fact that being justified without works is like taking the easy way out and it will potentially inhibit one from maintaining the two greatest commandments. This is certainly applicable even in this day and age, especially today. In a fast paced society, many of us lose sight of what is right in front of us and we do nothing about the here and now as we all aim for the future. Do people in this world not desperately need a good example of what it is to love each other and God? How many times and people have walked passed and not given a second thought to those begging because they don’t have basic needs that most any of us have an abundance of in this age of materialism and success?
If we are to only believe that having faith is enough, what does that even do for ourselves? Nothing! It only shows that we are diminishing all we have been blessed with and that we are selfish by hording what we have “earned” and continue to drift deeper of being of the world. Not only that, but how often do we worry or contemplate the future by saying “oh I might need that someday because…” or “what if…” – is that not only another way to justify in our own minds how we cannot help those in need NOW in the present?? Christ was such a reformist and went out of His way to be a blessing to others at His own expense. He touched sick people that the majority shunned, and He welcomed those who were outcasts to fellowship as a brother or sister. He focused on what He could then and there, in His Now by DOING. We all live too much in the future and not enough in the moments here and now. Change needs to occur in this hurting dying world, right? Sitting around hoping for someone else to do it will not help change anything and by being lazy about that or giving ourselves excuses because we are too busy just demeans the value of Christ’s message which He paid a very high price for revealing to us. He lead by example and as should all of humanity. We need to be the change we want to see by being the light, by being the example, by doing the good things to show others how and why! Collectively we can all do it starting NOW!
Take a deep look into your own heart and faith walk and ask yourself what change needs to be in the world and what is it that I can do right NOW to start helping make that change possible? Through those small changes and acts of good deeds, our faith will bolster our love and bond towards God because through that we will be upholding those two greatest commandments of loving each other and inherently loving God the way it was taught from Christ over 2000 years ago.