This is the fourth week we look at the question of why we do good works if Christ has paid for our sins. So far we have seen that we do good works not to save us, but because (i) we died to sin; (ii) to prove we are saved; and (iii) to show thankfulness to God. This week we look at yet another reason: to encourage other Christians.
The apostle Paul regularly speaks of the encouragement that comes from hearing of churches that are doing good works. To the church in Corinth he writes ‘For I know your eagerness to help, and I have been boasting about it to the Macedonians, telling them that since last year you in Achaia were ready to give; and your enthusiasm has stirred most of them to action’ (2 Corinthians 9:2). Paul’s boasting about Corinth actually encouraged other Christians to do good works too.
Another example is when Paul writes to the church in Thessalonica Paul writes: ‘We ought always to thank God for you, brothers, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing. Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring. All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right’ (2 Thessalonians 1:3-5). The fact that the Thessalonians are doing good works encourages Paul that what God has said is true. And this makes sense. If people were converted and then continued to be horrible and unloving towards other Christians we would doubt the truth of Christianity. Christianity would be known as bringing horror rather than joy.
Also, think about your own experience of Christianity. When another Christian sins against you (or other members of the church), does it encourage you or discourage you in your own faith? How much damage have you done to the churches you have been in by doing bad works that have been the source of discouragement to the other believers? Meanwhile, when Christians have been kind to you, has that encouraged or discouraged your own personal faith? I know that when I see members of our church showing love for one another I am strengthened.
Therefore, remember that although they don’t save you, good works are a wonderful way to edify other Christians. If you want to help encourage the faith of those around you, do good works.