From the Preacher’s Pen…
Have you ever heard someone say that there are people in the world that are much better people than Christians? The discussion is really a beat-down of godly people with two intentions.
- First, it claims that Christians are just imperfect hypocrites that don’t deserve any credit for anything good that they may do.
- Second, it claims that, when an ungodly person does something good, it actually ought to impress God and count for some kind of “points” toward salvation.
So lets’ take a moment to examine the question…
Does it Really Matter Why We Do Anything?
To begin with let’s notice an observation that author T.S. Eliot once made about one of his characters:
The last temptation is the greatest treason:
To do the right deed for the wrong reason.
His point was that the character actually was just fooling himself into believing that something right could be done for a selfish reason. In much the same way it is sometimes argued that people do deeds just as good, or perhaps even better than Christians. Yet God does not give praise to the “good deeds” of the ungodly.
So, does it actually make a difference why we do something? Is T. S. Eliot right in telling us that doing the right thing for the wrong reason is the worst kind of self-deception?
Let’s consider a simplified example. If doing the right thing for the wrong reason is okay with God, that means everyone that dives into the water or willing goes underwater for any reason has actually been baptized for the forgiveness of their sins!
Virtually no one would ever accept that argument! Of course, immersion in water for the wrong reason is not what God calls baptism! Why would any other good deed done for the wrong reason (in God’s eyes) somehow confuse God?
Now consider something that the Apostle Peter said: For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And if it is with difficulty that the righteous is saved, what will become of the godless man and the sinner? (1 Peter 4:17-18)
Since it requires a great sacrifice by Jesus and a repentance with actions that show the truth of our repentance (that’s what Acts 26:20 actually says!), it is NOT ever going to be done any way other than intentionally! And lest we miss the point Peter plainly states that the ungodly (those that fail to do God’s will for whatever reason) and the sinner (those that reject doing God’s will) will have no chance at salvation.
The apostle Paul puts the positive spin on it like this: For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe (1 Thessalonians 2:13). Only in those who are obedient children of God does the good work become godly good work.
Consider how great it is to serve the Lord God and bring glory to our Heavenly Father! How sad to think that someone would do great things and fail to give the honor and glory to God!
Yes, some may do good things without being Christians. But only Christians do things because of what God has done for them. Only those actively obeying God’s will are credited with doing the “deeds worthy of repentance!”
Will you serve Him who died for you?
— Lester P. Bagley