This is the fifth 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; (iii) to show thankfulness to God; and (iv) to encourage other Christians.
This week we look at yet another reason: to attract non-Christians. If a non-Christian sees Christians being horrible and unkind, it logically repels them from Christianity rather than attracts them. Whereas if Christians do good works to those around them, it often attracts people to Christianity. This is because when you show consistent love to a friend (or even an enemy) it can really break down their heart and bring them to a willingness to hear about Christianity. They begin to recognise that there is something different about you compared to the rest of the world and they want to know why and how they can be like you.
The Bible speaks about this in a number of places. For example Jesus teaches it in Matthew’s gospel: ‘In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven’ (Matthew 5:16). Jesus says that our good works may lead people to praise God. The apostle Peter teaches the same thing in his first letter: ‘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’ (1 Peter 2:12). Peter is saying that people may not like you at first because you are a Christian. But as you live good lives among them they eventually are unable to accuse you of evil and so are eventually led to glorify God.
Just recently, a new Christian told me that what first attracted her to Christianity was how kind some Christians were to her. The Bible’s teaching is true: we need to live the gospel as well as share it with our mouths. So remember that although good works do not save you (only trusting in Christ’s death on the cross can do that) they are of vital importance, particularly regarding our faithfulness to evangelism. If you want to see people come to know the Lord Jesus you need to show that Christianity is a good thing by the way you live, not just by speaking with your mouth. Are you conscious that non-Christians are watching you? Are you repelling people from Christianity by your bad works? Or are you attracting them by your good works?