Doing Good

November 26, 2007

I want to continue examining the topic of doing good works. This is such a prevalent topic in the New Testament that we often read right over it without seeing it. We minimize the importance of doing acts of service, labeling it as the social gospel. Some Christians seem to think that doing good to others is of secondary importance compared to things like evangelism and private spiritual disciplines. But if the number of scriptures on a topic is an indication of its importance, we may be underestimating the importance of good works. Consider the following passages on the subject:

Mat 5:16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

Mat 12:12 How much more valuable is a man than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”

Luk 6:27-31 “But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.

Act 9:36 In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which, when translated, is Dorcas), who was always doing good and helping the poor.

Act 10:37-38 You know what has happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached– how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.

Rom 2:6-7 God “will give to each person according to what he has done.” To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life.

Rom 7:21 So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me.

2Co 9:13 Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.

Gal 6:9-10 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

Eph 2:10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Php 2:4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Col 1:10 And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God,

1Ti 2:9-10 I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.

1Ti 5:9 No widow may be put on the list of widows unless she is over sixty, has been faithful to her husband, and is well known for her good deeds, such as bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the saints, helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds.

1Ti 5:24-25 The sins of some men are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them; the sins of others trail behind them. In the same way, good deeds are obvious, and even those that are not cannot be hidden.

1Ti 6:17-19 Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.

Tit 2:7 In everything set them an example by doing what is good.

Tit 2:14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

Tit 3:8 This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.

Tit 3:14 Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order that they may provide for daily necessities and not live unproductive lives.

Heb 10:24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.

Heb 13:16 And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

1Pe 2:12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

1Pe 2:15 For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men.

1Pe 3:10-12 For,
“Whoever would love life
and see good days
must keep his tongue from evil
and his lips from deceitful speech.
He must turn from evil and do good;
he must seek peace and pursue it.
For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous
and his ears are attentive to their prayer,
but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

1Pe 3:13 Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good?

1Pe 3:17 It is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.

1Pe 4:19 So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.

Even beyond these passages, much of scripture addresses the character issues that keep us from doing good works. As Eph 4:12 points out, it is the responsibility of church leaders to prepare the members of the church for works of service. That preparation includes instilling compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and a host of other character traits which lead to acts of kindness. Not only the leaders, but every Christian should be doing his part to build up the church toward good works (Eph 4:16). The fellowship in the assembly should be spurring us on to love and good works (Heb 10:24). The goal is that every member would be bearing fruit in every good work (Col 1:10).

The scriptures say much more about doing good works than about evangelism. Evangelism is a wonderfully good work–but not if we do it primarily for our own benefit. What motivates our evangelism? It is fairly obvious whether or not our evangelism is selfishly motivated. If we truly care about the other person, our service to them will address their physical needs as well. And our compassion toward them will not end after the evangelism is completed — whether they accept the message or not.

Yes, praise God that the gospel is proclaimed, whether from false motives or true. If people receive salvation because of selfish evangelism, their salvation is just as precious. But right now I’m focusing on the spiritual condition of the evangelizer. Without a genuine compassion for the people around us, our evangelism is hollow and hypocritical, and our hearts are far from the heart of God. The New Testament focuses on the heart and character traits (kindness, compassion, humility, gentleness, patience…) that will naturally produce properly motivated evangelism. I think that is the kind of teaching that church leaders should be emphasizing. And I think evangelism is one of the natural results of that kind of teaching.

Obviously the scriptures have a lot to say about Christians doing good works. I wonder if the teaching in churches emphasizes this topic to the same degree that the scriptures do. And I wonder if our good deeds are commensurate with the emphasis found in scripture.


  1. I am very challenged by your questions concerning motive. My outreach to the poor and concern for the whole person (physical, mental, etc…) has been lacking (absent). This will be a lesson I take to heart. Phil

  2. Thank you for this important lesson, I have been moved to change. Phil

  3. Excellent post brother. May we all do good to others.I believe if we are doing good expecially doing good to other denominations. I believe it willl help the cause of Christians unity. God wants us to be one if we do that then it will futher the cause for us to ONE as he is ONE. It is help us answer the prayer in John 17 that Jesus prayed. Again exellent post and I know it is going to be a wonderful series. Please keep me in your prayers. I have been having alot of pain. Oh, I would love for you to stop by and add to any comments on any topic you feel comfortable. I love you and respect your wisdom. I love your post and your blog as well as your comments on this blog and others as well. I hope you have a blessed weekend.

  4. Hi preacherman,I do pray for your comfort and recovery. Your blog posts are always deep and thought provoking, and gentle and humble. Thanks for commenting here.

  5. Interesting blog.I’m with you. There is much irony in the fact that the active faith that James talks about, you know faith without deeds, and so many people argue about in context is a faith that helps a brother or sister who is poorly clothed and lacking daily food.

  6. Great point Darin. James has a lot to say on this topic. (about widows and orphans for example.)

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