Summary: A look at some Criteria that are necessary for good works to be good.
For Valentine ’s Day several years ago I bought chocolates for everyone in my family. To help everyone remember which chocolates belonged to whom I bought different ones. One got rich dark Belgian chocolate. Another one received smooth creamy milk chocolate. All went well until my daughter opened her box and found she had received Green Tea Chocolate. She immediately burst into tears and my great plan sank like a Lead Zeppelin.
This illustration brings us to the inevitable conclusion that not all good deeds are good. Of course some good deeds are done from bad motives such as what Paul talks about in Phl 1:15 (ESV) Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. However, what about the deeds that are done from a good heart? Can good deeds done from a good heart be bad? I believe the answer is yes. I gave green chocolate to my daughter with a good heart but it was not what she wanted! The results were disastrous. I believe that we can apply this to our spiritual lives as well. There are many good works that we can be involved in as Christians but we must ask ourselves is this what God wants? To illustrate this further in the book of Genesis chapter 37 we see the story of Joseph and his brothers. Joseph comes to them in the field and they want to kill him (v.20) but in vv. 21 and 22 we read
37:21 ESV - But when Reuben heard it, he rescued him out of their hands, saying, "Let us not take his life." 22 - And Reuben said to them, "Shed no blood; throw him into this pit here in the wilderness, but do not lay a hand on him"--that he might rescue him out of their hand to restore him to his father.
Reuben had a great plan and a desire to rescue Joseph from a good heart but it was not God’s plan. Had Reuben delivered Joseph back to his father he might never have gone to Egypt. Later Joseph comforts his brothers in Chapter 45 with these words…”Gen 45:4 ESV - So Joseph said to his brothers, "Come near to me, please." And they came near. And he said, "I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. 45:5 - And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. Rather than desiring to punish his brothers for what they had done to him Joseph realized that this was all a part of God’s greater plan. The challenge for us then is:
1. To make sure our works are in alignment with God’s will.
2. To guard our hearts against bitterness and a desire for revenge when bad things happen to us.
3. To desire wisdom in understanding God’s will for our lives.