I was reading the other day about groups of people who believe that one day they will stand before God and their entrance into heaven will be based on their good works versus their bad. Basically, there will be one big scale and all the good they have done in their lives will be measured against all of the bad they have done. If the good is greater then the bad they go to heaven, and if the bad is greater they go to hell. To start off, I want to make it clear that I do not believe your good works will get you to heaven. The Bible makes it very clear in Ephesians that it is by grace we are saved and not by works.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.
But the whole idea of a completely works based heavenly entrance did get me thinking. If I were to die today, and this were true, would I go to heaven or hell? It is sad to think but so many Christians, myself included, seem to just go through the motions of life. We get up in the morning, and if we are lucky we have our daily devotional, we say our prayers, and by the time we are done working we come home, crash and then start all over again the next day. As Christians, we are supposed to show our faith through our works. As I thought about my life and made a mental list of my good works over the last week, I have to admit there were only a couple of things on that list. I guess I had never stopped to think about what it was to have faith by works. I just always figured that by not doing bad, I was doing good, but that is not the case at all. How often do I really go out of my way to show kindness or to do something out of my comfort zone that helps demonstrate my faith? When was the last time I volunteered to help shape the life of a young person, or when was the last time I discipled someone new in their faith?
In the Bible, the book of James is pretty clear about what we should do with our faith and how we should live. James 2 starting in verse 14 says.
14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! 20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?
Even though I do not believe that your good works will get you to heaven, I do believe that once you accept Jesus as your Savior, one of the easiest ways to show your faith is by your works. Over the last week I have changed my routine a little and made a conscious effort to show my faith through my works. It is amazing all of the new opportunities the Lord has shown me and all of the new ways I now have to honor Him. As Christians, there is always something we can be doing to further the Lord’s Kingdom and we just don’t realize all we can do or what we can handle until we try. Let’s face it, if the Bible says …faith without works is dead… and my good works don’t outweigh my bad, then how much faith do I really have?
Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom.