Tuesday, December 6, 2022
“Selfless Good Deeds”
It’s interesting because in this passage Paul makes what seems like a contradictory statement: on the one hand, he says “you have been saved…. not by works so that no one can boast,” seemingly diminishing the importance of works. Then immediately after that, he says we are “created…to do good works,” which implies that part of our very creation has to do with good works. So, which is it, Paul?
On an episode of one of the best 90s TV shows, Friends, Joey and Phoebe are debating whether a good deed can ever be truly selfless. Joey announces he is hosting a charity telethon, and Phoebe says it’s not a good deed because he’s just doing it for TV exposure. Joey says, “there are no selfless good deeds” since a person doing the good deed is at the very least getting some form of happiness by doing it. Or possibly even more rewards, such as praise, fame, money, pride.
In the realm of life, death, and everything that might be after, working to achieve salvation would be a good deed with the ultimate reward. If we are laboring throughout our life to “deserve” heaven, could it be said that any of those deeds are truly good? Maybe partially.
But in this passage, Paul seems to free us from those endless labors: working each day to get to heaven, every motive partially mixed, always wondering if we are good enough. When released from that pressure, we are free to do good works for the good of the work itself. And then maybe the good deed really can be good.
Prayer: Lord God, everything good comes from you. Our good deeds in response to your love glorify you and we can praise you. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to give back to you. Amen.