Good Deeds

Good Deeds

Matthew 5:15-16 (NLT)
No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.

There is a saying, “No good deed goes unpunished.” It means that people can try to do good things and still end up in a mess because quite frankly life is not fair. What we do and how we act is influenced by two factors: our flesh and the Holy Spirit. The outcome of our good deed is not always manifested in the earth and in fact can turn around and bite us. Hence there is a reluctance of people to get involved anymore. Several years ago, our home was invaded by thieves who helped themselves to whatever they wanted. The police officers began knocking on doors and speaking to all or our neighbors. One particular woman who lives across the street is a homemaker. My hopes that she had seen something during the robbery was immediately dashed when the officer indicated that she had not. Later, her husband arrived home and escorted his wife to our home where law enforcement was still investigating. She had witnessed the robbery and gave a description for the report. I can remember being aggravated with her for not coming forward before. She didn’t want to get involved. How many times does this happen in life simply because people believe that “no good deed goes unpunished.”

Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. To understand the role of good deeds in our life is to first understand that they are important. The Fruit of the Spirit include kindness and goodness. How do we, as believers, effectively let (our) good deeds shine out for all to see SO THAT everyone will praise (our) Heavenly Father? Read it again. Let your good deeds shine out for all to see SO THAT everyone will praise your Heavenly Father. I love to do good things for other people. Even when I am warned by the people around me not to get involved or it’s no use, I still have to try. We all should do good deeds with it in mind that everything good comes from the Father (James 1:17) and apart from Jesus Christ there is nothing good in us (Romans 7:18).

Psalm 112:1-4 (NLT)
Praise the LORD! How joyful are those who fear the LORD and delight in obeying his commands. Their children will be successful everywhere; an entire generation of godly people will be blessed. They themselves will be wealthy, and their good deeds will last forever. Light shines in the darkness for the godly. They are generous, compassionate, and righteous.

We all start out with good intentions. True joy and delight come from respecting the Lord and demonstrating such regard through obedience. This allows the blessing of God to flow to us, through us and overflow from our life. We become successful as do our children. Generations will be blessed. Wealth will come and we will be rich without sorrow added to it. (Proverbs 10:22) Their good deeds will last forever. Light shines in the darkness for the godly and they are generous, compassionate and righteous.

Everything we do for the Lord should be wrapped in His Love and Grace. It must be born of generosity, compassion and according to our right relationship with the Lord. It is nothing we do but the goodness and favor released to us that improves our life. This does not mean that our good deeds will go unpunished as the saying goes for as we read further in Psalm 112, the truth is revealed. Those who fear the Lord and are obedient will still get bad news. (vs. 7) However, they do not have to fear it. They will still face frightening situations but they can remain fearless expecting victory. (vs. 8) The enemy and evildoers around us will be infuriated at the blessing of God in our life so we can expect opposition but know that nothing will come of them. (vs. 10) My life should reflect the goodness that I have found in the Lord – I can only do that effectively by living a life of respect before the Lord and obeying His Every Word to the best of my ability with the help of the Holy Spirit.

Matthew 6:1-4 (NLT)
Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven. When you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do—blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get. But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.

There is a Turkish tradition that became a rule of etiquette that says to never return an empty plate. When someone gives you a cake, pie or any other full plate – it should be returned in the same manner. This tradition resonates in the south and my grandmother shared it with me long ago. While this is an act of courtesy, it is also reciprocal in nature. Some people hate to feel like they owe something to someone or have been one up by another. When someone blesses us, we immediately desire to do the same for them either out of kindness or reciprocation. The truth is we can never reciprocate the love found in the Father and received through the Son. Our good deeds affect only humans. (Job 35:7-8) Every good deed is born of intent. What is your intentions today? It matters.

Do I want my good deeds to bring attention to me or to Jesus? We all must take the time to examine our heart throughout our Christian walk. If there is anything that we decide that God needs us to do or that Christ depends on us for, we have made a tragic mistake and our good deeds will not last forever. They will only reap earthy attention and worldly rewards because pride has taken over where faith once had been. This is the difference between the Martha’s and Mary’s in life. We can do nothing apart from Jesus Christ. He is our strength. His Spirit produces the goodness and kindness that shines out as generosity in our life. Give your gifts in private. When we serve the Lord in our homes, jobs and churches, it is important to inspect these acts of kindness for authenticity. If we seek public attention, praise or affirmation, we have fallen from grace and now operate in fear and pride. Every deed done outside of Christ is of no value or use in our life. It is just another worthless attempt to gain grace already given and love already obtained. When I try to reciprocate God’s Love, it is not what I do but what I allow Him to do through me. It is my offering.

Matthew 19:16-22 (NLT)
Someone came to Jesus with this question: “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” “Why ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. But to answer your question—if you want to receive eternal life, keep[b] the commandments.” “Which ones?” the man asked. And Jesus replied: “‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. Honor your father and mother. Love your neighbor as yourself.’” “I’ve obeyed all these commandments,” the young man replied. “What else must I do?” Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” But when the young man heard this, he went away sad, for he had many possessions.

Almost two years ago, my birth mother died. As many others in today’s world, I have a birth mother and God-given mom. I had just returned from caring for our son during his transplant and just a week before my daughter’s wedding. It was a crazy time. My aunt called to tell me my mother had passed away. We had been estranged for more than a decade. I lost my mother to addiction. Alcohol devastated our relationship and ultimately took her life. At that time, I really didn’t have time to think about it just went through the motions which was pretty much how I lived during that time. I was empty. Completely poured out. Lately though, I have been thinking about her. I decided at a very young age that I would be nothing like my mother. I would devote my whole life to my children. Sounds noble, yes. It is not what the Lord calls us to do as believers. Yet, it is a good thing… a good deed if you will. Well, when death came calling for our son, I could not do anything in my power to overtake it. I could not make cancer go away. I could not take away his suffering and pain. I could not heal his body. I failed. My good deeds were not enough to save my dying son…but Jesus was.

It was never my intent to disobey the Lord in raising my children or allow them to take His Place. But sometimes our best intentions unravel when this world comes into play. The young man came to Jesus with good intentions. He wanted to do something to have eternal life. Jesus offered him religion and he gladly scooped it up. He could do that. When Jesus told him how to be perfect, it required a total sacrifice – the man went away sad. I spent my whole life trying to be different from my mom. It was not until I decided to be like Jesus that it changed. Life hands us a plate. How we return it is up to us? God gives us grace. Will we give it away? He gives us goodness. Can we reciprocate? My mom was human. She did her best and fell short. I do the same every single day. My life cannot be about undoing wrongs and changing my heritage. My life must be a living sacrifice to Jesus Christ for anything I do to be worthy of His Kingdom.

Matthew 26:6-13 (NLT)
Meanwhile, Jesus was in Bethany at the home of Simon, a man who had previously had leprosy. While he was eating, a woman came in with a beautiful alabaster jar of expensive perfume and poured it over his head. The disciples were indignant when they saw this. “What a waste!” they said. “It could have been sold for a high price and the money given to the poor.” But Jesus, aware of this, replied, “Why criticize this woman for doing such a good thing to me? You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me. She has poured this perfume on me to prepare my body for burial. I tell you the truth, wherever the Good News is preached throughout the world, this woman’s deed will be remembered and discussed.”

There is a profound difference between obedience and sacrifice. Obedience is the tithing of our life by giving God what He requires. However, an offering is sacrificial giving above and beyond that which is required. The woman came to Jesus with an alabaster jar of expensive perfume. It represented her worth and value on the earth. She poured it over his head. The disciples were mad because they saw the worth of the offering in earthly terms, but Jesus saw beyond her offering inside her heart. She poured out everything to Jesus. She did not do it publicly but in a private home. She did not say anything that is noted. Her action would speak for itself.

Let me ask you something. Do you feel unappreciated? Do you think no one notices all your hard work? Are you waiting on a “thank you”? If we expect such things, it is not the kind of good deed that plants seeds in Heaven because we are doing it for earthly recognition and reward. The attention of others should make us uncomfortable because we want our good deeds to shine before men but make them praise Jesus. I am challenged today to inspect my intentions and examine my heart. Do I want men to notice? Or do I want Jesus to? Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1) The woman who anointed Jesus could see with her heart what His own disciples could not see with their eyes or hear with human ears. Jesus was going to die and become a sacrifice.

It says in the word of God that Abraham was found righteous because he believed. His good deeds got him nowhere only faith allowed him to regain right standing with God. To have confident hope means we see beyond today into forever and can live for that place even when it yields no earthly benefit. Obedience is not the offering of our life in sacrifice, but to do so expecting only Jesus makes it so. Abraham had nothing to boast about yet the entire Jewish nation still calls his name. Our boast can only be Jesus Christ. Nothing we do or say can add make us more worthy of God’s Love.

Titus 2:11-14 (NLT)
For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed. He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds.

Do not grow weary in well doing my friend! (Galatians 6:9) Weariness and resentment come with misplaced expectation. The enemy wants nothing more than to discourage God’s People and persuade them to stop doing good deeds for the Kingdom. God gives seed to the sower. So if you are doing and doing but feel drained and empty, it is probably because somewhere along the way it became your efforts and not Christ’s sufficiency that was carrying you. In 2 Corinthians 9:10-12 it talks about God providing for those who are generous. It also gives us two good things that should come of our efforts for Christ. The needs of believers should be met. They will joyfully express thanks to you…no wait that’s not what it says, but rather “and they will joyfully express their thanks to God.”

The grace of God is revealed to us as we are given the gift of salvation. No we can live in right standing with the Father as sons and daughters of God. We must evaluate each step that we take to make sure we stay in alignment with Jesus because the enemy will try to lie and deceive us. Pride rises up to preserve our flesh. No one wants to die for Christ but it is the death of our flesh giving way to the Spirit that allows us to see that it’s really not about me anymore. For me die is to live in Christ. When I do good deeds, it should be as seed sown in Heaven. To desire earthly reward and attention is to pluck that seed from God’s Hand and put it into someone else’s. I don’t want that. I want to endure to the end and be saved. I don’t want my children to think I am a great mom anymore and nothing like my biological mom, but see the attributes of my Heavenly Father as should everyone I run into in every day. Good deeds can be a tree of life. It just depends on where you plant them.

James 2:17-20 (NLT)
So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.” You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless?

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