Good Works: Excuses
Many passages in the New Testament teach us to do “good works.”
Ephesians 2:10--For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
Titus 3:1-2--Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work…
1 Timothy 6:17-19-- Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.
James 4:17--Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.
It is easy to read these passages and understand that we should be doing things to help other people. However, I find that this is an area in which it is easy to make excuses and fail to do what I should be doing!
“I just don’t have time!” is a favorite excuse for not doing what we should be doing. There are always things that fill our time, and our choices determine what those things are. We are often told by society that we need to make time for ourselves; learn to say “no” instead of over committing our time. Of course, we are not told to say “no” to our own desires, but to other people. Is that really a Biblical principle? I realize that we have to have rest, and that we have to prioritize. But with the commands and examples given in scriptures, how can good works for others not be near the top of our priority list? These things are part of serving God, not just things to make us feel good. We should really evaluate the way we use our time before using it as an excuse for failing to obey God in this way.
“My children take so much of my time and attention, I just can’t do anything else right now!” The demands on our time and energy are certainly high when we are caring for children, and it is true that the main focus of a mother should be on the care and teaching of her children. It is too common that parents neglect their children, especially their spiritual teaching. What do we think of, though, when we think about teaching our children? We do Bible readings and lessons, teach them memory verses, draw pictures and make crafts to help them remember stories. We teach our children a lot of facts, but do we sometimes forget to teach them the “doing” side of Christianity? Our children learn from our examples, and if they see us doing good works they will learn to do them, too. Even better, they can help us do those good works! Let them help with cooking meals for someone who has a new baby. Take them with you to choose items for a gift basket and deliver it to someone who is sick. You do not have to cook a 7-course gourmet meal—keep it simple, but involve your children. Sometimes it may be more practical to just work with one child at a time, but there should be plenty of opportunities for each of them to have turns. Experience helping you help others should be a key part of their spiritual education! Involve them in doing good works instead of using them as an excuse not to.
“I don’t know what to do.” One of the hardest aspects of doing good works for others is deciding what to do. It is easy to overlook things that need to be done. We have to push ourselves to look outside our own lives and see opportunities to help people. We can put ourselves in others’ shoes, as the saying goes. Within a local congregation of God’s people, we must get to know each other well enough to recognize what might be needed. Look around the congregation where you are. Do you see a mother with small children who might like free babysitting for a few hours while she takes a break or gets some things done? Do you see a pregnant lady who doesn’t feel well and would enjoy not having to cook supper one night? Do you see someone with pain that might need help cleaning the house or mowing the yard? Do you see a widow or widower who lives alone and would just enjoy a visit and someone to talk to? Do you see someone who struggles financially and might be helped by a bag of groceries or a gift card quietly given? These are only a few examples, but the point is that we have to focus on other people in order to do things for other people. We have to know them, and open our eyes to what we can do to help them.
There are a lot of people who do a lot of good works. The examples given in this article are based on deeds that have been done many times. If you are already doing good works, keep it up, knowing your reward will be given by God (Matthew 6:4)!
There are times when we need to be the recipients of good works—and that is OK! But, we also need to recognize when we can do things for others and not let excuses keep us from good works. It is also worth noting that helping other people is a good way to overcome discouragement. Taking the focus off ourselves and putting our attention on others will often make us feel better in the end. Let us all do our best to serve the Lord by serving others.