(Note: This article is scheduled to appear in the July 15 edition of the Linn County News.)
“For the love of Christ controls us." (2 Corinthians 5:14)
It's probably not a surprise to anyone that God expects us to live holy lives. He calls all sinners to turn from their sin in repentance and follow Jesus Christ as Lord. The result of this initial commitment to Christ is a lifetime of "good works" which give evidence of our Christianity. "Good works" cannot earn our way to Heaven, but "good works" can show that a genuine change has come to our hearts.
One of the ways a Christian can gain assurance of salvation is by examining their life to see if there are "good works." But "good works" alone doesn't prove someone is a Christian. You must go deeper and examine the motivation that drives the good works. A non-Christian is capable of doing good works. Furthermore, a lot of people in this world do many good works in an attempt to gain God's favor, all the while they are still perishing in their sins because they haven't turned to Christ as Lord.
Our motivation for good works must not be merely a sense of duty. Nor should it be a begrudging attitude of trying to placate God. Our motivation should be out of a deep love for our Lord who died for us and a desire to consequently live for Him. Our motivation should be a love for other people and a desire to see them love and know Christ as Lord. Duty must not be a paramount motivation. Love must be.
The Apostle Paul wrote of this when he said: "If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing." (1 Corinthians 13:1-2 NASB)
If a person is truly a Christian, then good works will exist...but so will love. Examine your life and see if the good works are there, but make sure the motivation behind them is just as honoring to God as the works themselves.