"For His achievement are we, being created in
Christ Jesus for good work, which God makes ready beforehand, that we
should be walking in them," Ephesians 2:10.
We are saved in grace, through faith, not of
works. Our good works do not save us, nor do they help in doing
so. As I showed in a recent issue of the Messenger, we are saved
to expectation. Our present salvation is a matter of faith.
Good works are to follow, not produce, salvation.
That which is good has pleasurable and useful
qualities. Theology teaches that good works consists of
ceremonies. Since these are neither pleasurable nor useful.
I cannot agree with this theory. Good works may be done daily, in
a hundred different ways, and in what religionist call little,
insignificant deeds. Paul said that he was working for the good of
all, yet specially for the family of faith. Those who are not of
the family of faith cannot appreciate any spiritual service that we may
render. This shows that we may do good works in deeds that are not
regarded as spiritual, for those who are outside the family, and we may
do the same, together with spiritual service, for our relatives in the
faith, that is, we are doing for them what we are doing for others, and
also are doing for them what others would not appreciate.
I love the thought that God makes good works ready
beforehand. This does not necessarily mean that He made them ready
in the long ago when He chose us in Christ. No; He makes them
ready before we do them - it may be just before. I remember a day
recently when I was driving home from "uptown," talking to the
Lord about the fact that He did not seem to have made ready any good
works for me that day. Just then I saw a crippled man coming on
crutches. Stopping the car, I went to him and said, "Joe, I'm
glad to have the privilege of giving you some money in the name of our
Lord Jesus Christ. He loves you far better than I do, and you are
included in His endless plan of blessing. Temporarily you are in
need, so that I and others can have the opportunity of doing some good
works. Don't thank me; thank God." Joe looked at me
with tears in his eyes, and said, "I thank God, and also
you." This is what I understand in regard to God making ready
good works before hand. I thank Him that He has so led me, that I
am constantly looking for the evidence that He has made ready something
for me to do in His name. Happy is the saint who searches for
opportunity to do good, as earnestly as a prospector looks for
We may do good to others in word, as well as in
deed. I well remember Uncle Irving Kersey, with whom I was
associated when I was a boy. When I visited his home he would read
the scriptures to me, stopping occasionally to make some comment, or to
ask me for comment. I learned much about the word of God in this
way. My congregations are benefited to this day, by things I
learned at the feet of that dear old saint.
I am impressed with Paul's instruction in the phrase:
"Your word being always with grace, seasoned with salt, perceiving
how you must answer each one," Colossians 4:6. Not every
person will be benefited by the same words, any more than all people
desire the same amount of salt on their foods. Much wisdom is
required, that we may say the correct thing to those who inquire of
us. We ought to try to know the person to whom we are
talking. Once, in Augusta Georgia, a company of girls came to me
and asked, "Do you think we are going to the devil?" I
inquired why they had asked this question. They replied that a
certain preacher had just told them that they were going in that
direction. I replied, "No, I don't think so. You are
young, and are gushing with fun. This is because the creator has
made young people that way. I was a boy, once, and I had plenty of fun.
As a matter of fact, I yet have lots of it. God has not yet laid
on you the burden that you must bear in later years. I am sure
that you are decent girls. Go ahead and have your fun."
The preacher had driven them from him; they were drawn to me. They
became frequent visitors at our meetings. Today they are mothers,
and all of them attend our meetings, and take an active part. They
are devoted to the truth. The reply to their question might have
driven them away.
One of the girls, in an endeavor to show her
appreciation, said to me, after I had answered the question: "You
are good." To this I replied, "No, I am not good.
I am just a poor sinner, saved in the grace of God. If I thought
myself very good, I might say, as did the preacher, that you are going
to the devil. i am satisfied that you are as good as I am." I
have noticed that the very good, (in their own estimation), hardly know
what to say to folks who have faults, except to insult them.
Not the "goody-goody" people, but the wise
ones, draw folks to them. In the same passage that I have just
quoted from Paul, we find, "In wisdom be walking toward those
outside," Colossians 4:5. Walking has reference to our
conduct. It is a lifetime study, to know how to so apply our
knowledge, so that it will bear the most desirable fruit in the lives
of our associates. Our chief aim ought to be to so act that God
will receive all praise for whatever is commendable in our lives.
It is not glorifying to God if I impress people with MY goodness.
Such a course might glorify ME, without even turning the thoughts of my
associates toward God. Wisdom dictates that people must be impressed
with the goodness of GODnot my own.
Whatever I may do that is good, I want those who
behold it, to know that, but for the grace of God, there would be no
good in my conduct. If I do a kindness, let me do it in a way that
the recipient will know that the motive as well as the ability to do it,
is from God through Christ. Of course, saints who have reached a degree
of maturity know this to be the case. They are acquainted with the
fact that when one is doing good works it is because God is operating in
that one to will as well as to work for the sake of His delight.
In Glennville we have saints who delight in looking after Mrs. Screws
when I am away. They tell her, "Let me know if there is any
errand I can do for you. I'll gladly do it." We know that it
is God working in them that gives them this disposition. And they
are doing good works.
Since God has not given us jurisdiction over our
fellows, we must not try to interfere with their lives. There are
many things that they do, perhaps, that we do not do. But the fact
that we do not do them is no proof that they are wrong. A
critical, bossy disposition has blasted many a saint's chances of doing
someone good, and leading him to attend our meetings, where, if God
gives him the "hearing ear," he will be benefited by the
Smile! I know of nothing that is more
contagious. Who wants to associate with one who has "soured
on all creation?" A pleasant " Good morning,"
accompanied by a genuine smile, has brightened the day for many a weary
soul. We have something to smile about, too. We have learned
that there is not a doleful future, but a most happy one, for all
mankind. We know, also, that, while waiting for that future, every
judgment, all suffering, will be for the good of those who are thus
exercised. We know that God is operating all in accord with the
counsel of His will.
Suppose enemies to the truth do try to destroy what
we have built up. Don't we know that God is able to take care of
the situation? Why should we become angry about it? Why
become sour? Why get nervous aver it? Why worry, in the face
of Paul's injunction, "Let nothing be worrying you?" May
we still be pleasant and gracious, even to the enemies: It will pay handsome
dividends in the end.
your face be like the daybreak,
you pass your neighbor by.
your heart brim o'er with music,
the songsters of the sky.
a merry beam of sunshine.
a lily pure and fair,
a jewel bright and precious.
a blessing everywhere.