Good deeds must accompany faith, otherwise it is not faith at all. It's just a good idea.
"What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Will that kind of faith save him? Faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. Show me your faith apart from your works and I will show you my faith by my works." James 2:14-19
Faith is demonstrated by our actions. Jesus tells the same truth about the good apple which can only come from a good tree. It sounds simple, yet, what are "good" deeds which result from faith and NOT FROM SELF-SATISFACTION OR SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS?
How does my faith determine my deeds? Do my good deeds "feel" good? Or do I engage in deeds which require me to be uncomfortable because they are from God. In fact, when I operate out of "my" gifts, I may tend to take credit for the deeds. Excess turns all gifts into curses, says Richard Rohr. What should be used for God's good is used to help me feel purposed, useful or more gifted.
My deeds must originate from who God is, not who I am. If God means to draw all men to him or for his people to be unified or to be love itself, which deeds honor his character/his truth? Jesus said it simply, as you treat the least (by whatever definition that is for you), that is how I treat him. Am I patronizing? Am I empowering? Am I meeting their needs or my own?
What is "good" is determined by God and points to his goodness (not mine). Knowing God guides me to understand how he sees people and what he wants for them. I want to bridge cultural divides so more can have access to material goods and spiritual good because Jesus often talks about meeting the needs of the poor, both physical and spiritual.
I also have to confront systems which oppress. Isaiah 58 uses strong language of a true fast: loosen the bonds of wickedness, undo the straps of the yoke which oppresses and to break every yoke. These are action-centered efforts, which often cause me to be uncomfortable.
It is the Lord's good when I march for change, when I write my representatives, when I advocate for changed legislation, when I empower others to vote. I stay uncomfortable so that others can be set free. Not as fun as teaching a class - not as succinct nor with immediate feedback - but for the cause of Christ in the world, I do this unlikely "good."
So sorry, readers. I cannot get the font size to change...
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