Tuesday, September 1, 2009

God had a Plan,
A Good Deeds Book

I like to think of Titus as being ‘The Good Deeds Book.’ Now I know some of you are already a bit nervous about that. After all, our salvation isn’t based on ‘good deeds,’ but on the grace of God; it is the free gift of God’s love and mercy which we received when we believed that Jesus died on the cross to take away our sins. And you are so very right about that. Nowhere in the bible does it tell us otherwise. Even in the very book of Titus the gospel of our salvation is explained, stating quite clearly that we are not saved by our own deeds which we have done in righteousness.

Titus 3:4-7 But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

There are other fundamental themes found within the book of Titus – church planting, sound doctrine, role modeling, and generally how we as Christians are to live our lives. That said, the theme I would like to focus on – is good deeds. Titus is only three short chapters and yet ‘deed’ or ‘deeds’ are mentioned in seven verses. From these few verses, it is evident that now, having been saved by grace, we are most surely to practice ‘good deed doing.’ Because it is mentioned so often, I have to conclude that it is considered by God Himself to be very important. In addition to Titus 3:4-7, the other verses that mention “good deeds” from Titus are the following:

Titus 1:16 They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed.

Titus 2:7 in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified,

Titus 2:14 who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.

Titus 3:1 Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed,

Titus 3:8 This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and profitable for men.

Titus 3:14 Our people must also learn to engage in good deeds to meet pressing needs, so that they will not be unfruitful.

So, why are good deeds so very significant? Why not just enjoy grace, and sit back and wait for our ultimate salvation when the Lord returns to take us to be with Him forever? I believe the reason is simple – if an apple tree never produces apples, can we be sure it is an apple tree? The evidence of our faith is fruit – and if our lives produce no fruit, how can we be sure that faith is real?

Truly, I believe it is God Himself who desires to see fruit in our lives. Faith that produces no good thing is not something He is pleased with. He is pleased, however, when our faith is revealed – exemplified by our good deeds. The apple tree proves it is an apple tree by producing apples.

John 15:8 “My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.

God’s plan didn’t end with our salvation. “Good deeds” aren’t somehow an accidental post script to our foundational faith. God knew and planned all along that our actions would line up with our beliefs – when we really believe. If we believe a stove is hot, we won’t touch it. If we believe God is real, our actions will show that belief.

So, what then – are we to spend our days just looking for ways to be a “good-deed-doer?” It’s not that simple. Even a non-Christian can be a “good-deed-doer.” Motivation of the heart, whether we are doing deeds by faith – believing first that a specific deed is the thing God wants us to do, and knowing we can’t do anything in our own power but must rely on Him and His power working through us – all of these things tell whether it is truly a “good deed” in God’s sight. We do so many things from a desire to earn the favor of man, or even to earn God’s favor because we don’t completely understand the grace in which we stand.

Here is a very simple example. My child does not earn the right to be my child by cleaning his room. He already IS MY CHILD. He cannot earn through good deeds what he already has. We cannot earn by good deeds what we have already been freely given. If my child chooses to disobey me by not cleaning his room, he is still my child and I still love him. But quite frankly, I am not pleased with his behavior. On the other hand, if my child chooses to obey me by cleaning his room, then not only is he still my beloved child, but he has pleased me with his behavior.

This is a simple illustration of God’s love for us, and how completely accepted we are in Christ Jesus. It also explains some scriptures which otherwise might cause some confusion, because in fact, we are told to make pleasing God our very ambition.

1 Corinthians 5:9 Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him.

Colossians 1:10 so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;

I like the book of Titus. Rather than being discouraged because I know I’m never going to get it all done, nor get it all done right, nor even do all the “good deeds” I’m called to, I’m thankful for God’s grace, and that He tells me I am His child, and He will always love me and always be with me. I’m also thankful that I can pursue knowing and pleasing Him, because by His grace He is building inside of me a desire to please Him, and because according to scripture it is the right thing to do!

And so, God’s plan – we are to be: an example of good deeds, zealous for good deeds, ready for every good deed, careful to engage in good deeds, and learning to engage in good deeds – and all for His glory, because we have as our sincere ambition to please Him in all respects!

Job 42:1-2Then Job answered the LORD and said, "I know that You can do all things, And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted."


Joanne Sher said...

Great analogy - you definitely gave me a better understanding of the role of good works. And I LOVE this line: I believe the reason is simple – if an apple tree never produces apples, can we be sure it is an apple tree? The evidence of our faith is fruit – and if our lives produce no fruit, how can we be sure that faith is real?

Great stuff, Sherri

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

With God's Spirit living within, we cannot help but bear fruit for the kingdom; however, we must tend to his inward working; otherwise our deeds are rooted in wrong motivation. Left to myself, my love for others is weak, and thus, little motivation to offer my heart on their behalves. But when God's love is activated in me, it spills forth onto others.

Great thoughts! Thanks for stopping by the blog.

Blessings and peace~elaine

Josef said...

Keep the brilliant work going!