How to Get Christians to do Good Works

Concerned that your congregation isn’t mindful enough to do things that help people?  Paul gave Titus The Formula for motivating Christians to good works: “Speak these things“.

What are these things?

First, here’s the formula in Titus 3:8 (NASB):

“This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and profitable for men.”

And the ESV is even more clear:

“The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.”

So the answer is to insist on these things – but what are these things that are supposed to be so excellent and profitable for people? What are the things that leaders in the church should insist on, so that the congregation will be motivated to good works?

<Drum Roll>

In the preceding four verses, we find these things.

“But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”

For comparison, here is the New Living Translation:

But—“When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. Because of his grace he declared us righteous and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.”

So, in short, if we want the congregation to do good works, then let’s tell them what God has done for them – freely done for them in Christ.  Let’s get them to know that and to believe that and to depend on that.

But first, dear Christian teacher, do you notice the irony?  To get Christians motivated for good works, you need to teach them about how God saved them according to his mercy and not based on good works.

Let’s preach the Good News!  If it doesn’t sound “good“, it may not be the gospel!

His Tree or Your Tree?

Friends, what makes us acceptable before God, our conscience or the righteousness of Christ?

Let’s consider the types in the Old Testament.  There are many, and many of them point to Jesus. Here are two types – see if you can recognize which one is your conscience and which one is Christ:

When the first man ate from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, the other Tree was hidden. The other Tree is the Tree of Life. Adam was forced out – away from the presence of the Tree of Life.

Many years later, when the Second Man hung on a tree, reconciling us to God and rising in power, he defeated the enemy, who enslaved us to the tree of knowledge of good and evil (our conscience).  So now the cross of Jesus Christ is our Tree of Life which takes away our slavery to the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  When we eat the fruit from this Tree, we are taken away from the presence of the other tree.

Jesus is our Tree of Life.

The old tree has more than one gnarly branch.  It is the knowing of both Good and Evil.  Some of us think highly of ourselves, and some of us think lowly of ourselves – either way, it’s “good and evil” knowledge. In both, we cover ourselves with our works, like Adam did when he and Eve covered themselves with the works of the garden – the fig leaves. Adam was placed in the garden to work the garden.  He used his works to cover his shame.  But God’s plan is not like our plan – He won’t accept our works as a covering for our shame. What is His way? – blood and new skin.

Approaching God with our good works is like wearing fig leaves.

Sometimes we think too highly of ourselves, and we can’t grasp the significance of grace and mercy – we are willfully ignorant of our shame. Our fig leaves seemingly work well for us.  Sometimes we think so lowly of ourselves that we refuse to grab hold of grace and mercy by faith. Both approaches to God or away from God are conscience-driven. Both are from the wrong tree.

So friends, what will you depend on today in your prayers and thoughts and reception of blessing before and from God?  How will you cover your shame? Will it be with your good behavior?

I don’t know about you, but …

My aim today is to claim Blood and to wear New Skin.