Works and Grace – Christians Living Better: Why Christians Should be Doers
“To do” or “not to do”?
Sally is a zealous Christian who volunteers at the homeless shelter every week. She visits the ill and writes books to help sexual abuse victims. Sally reads the Bible and believes that putting it into practice is key.
Sally’s friend from church, Jan, sees all the good deeds and active service that Sally does. Instead of encouraging Sally and cheering her on, Jan gives Sally a hard time and tells her, “Why are you doing so much? Take life easy, don’t worry about doing a thing”. Jan then accuses Sally of trying to win God’s approval by works. Jan calls Sally a “legalist” and a “pharisee” for believing in Bible doctrine and practicing it.
I will explain to you why this happens all the time in Christian circles. Many Christians are afraid of the word “do”. Many professing Christians believe that since God’s grace saves us, we are not to do anything else with our lives. It is a sort of “do-phobia”.
These non-zealous Christians often label the zealous ones. Sometimes, they cast false slurs on zealous Christians (like “legalist” or even worse, “pharisee”). Most of the time, these labels come from individuals who do not know the Greek meanings of these labels.
These zealous Christians are often met with statements like, “we are saved by grace, so don’t do anything else”. While God’s grace does indeed save us, this grace should not prompt us to laziness or a prolonged spiritual stupor but to loving service! In fact, “doing” has nothing to do with earning salvation, and “doing”, in this sense, is not the same as “salvation by works”.
“Doing” has a whole lot to do with what comes after true conversion. After we have decided to follow Christ, we love God with all the heart, soul, mind and strength (Mark 12:30). When we love God, loving obedience ensues. It’s that love, from the Holy Spirit, that propels us to “do”! Why does this matter? It matters because our society needs more individuals who love others with action. Our world needs Christians to put the Bible into practice. People like Jan confuse Christians like Sally who are trying to follow Christ.
Consider these seven Biblical, New Testament admonitions to “do”:
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” (Matthew 7:24-27)
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10)
“Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:19)
“He said, ‘The one who showed him mercy.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘You go, and do likewise.'” (Luke 10:37)
“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.” (James 1:22-25)
“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 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. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:1-10)
“For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here, I have made five talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here, I have made two talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.’ But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ (Matthew 25:14-30; The Parable of the Talents)”
Greek for “do”
This Greek word for “do” is often “peripateó” which means to walk, behave or conduct ourselves. It can also be from the Greek word “poieó” which means to make, manufacture, construct or cause. The Greek word for “disciple” is “mathétés” which means a learner of the doctrines of Scripture and a doer. A disciple is someone who does the necessary life application and follow-through.