Though the flesh may rebel against commands, the wonderful thing about them is that they are unequivocal. The believer does not have to wonder what God wants or try to figure out what pleases Him and then take a stab in the dark, hoping to strike the target. No, commands afford clear, precise direction from the mind of a good, loving God and Heavenly Father. They declare that God’s will is not mystical or amorphous, difficult to find or apprehend, or available only to a select few inhabiting some inner circle. They set parameters: stay inside this area and you will be blessed; venture outside and you will be chastened. They establish goals: do this and you will please God; fail to do this and you will displease Him. Before us today is a prime example of a clear directive from God. The Apostle Paul writes that “Our people must also learn to engage in good deeds to meet pressing needs, so that they will not be unfruitful” (Tit. 3:14).
Preparation. Christian virtues do not spring up automatically without cultivation. Though as “the fruit of the Spirit” they are the work of God, they are planted in the believer in incipient form, or, we might say, embryonic form. Just as a baby has feet but must learn to walk, a mouth but must learn to talk, and eyes but must learn to read, so the spiritual baby in Christ must “learn to engage in good deeds.” Charity, generosity, selflessness, and other virtues required to do good works do not just happen. We must be instructed by the Word and the Spirit of God; we must see examples in those around us engaged in selfless giving of their time, energy, and wealth; and we must endure trials and adversities ourselves in the process of learning to do good deeds.
Performance. The learning is preparation for performing, namely, the actual doing of good deeds. A broom manufacturer creates brooms to perform a function. An electrical engineer develops computers to perform specific functions. The Creator made man and the Savior redeemed men to perform concrete functions. Among those functions is the doing of good deeds. If we, as blood-bought saints are not actively engaged in good deeds, we have failed to do what we have been created and redeemed to do. Last week, certain functions on my cell phone quit working. That phone is now history because it did not do what it was designed to do. We may thank the Lord that He does not replace us with a new model when we fail to perform as He intended, but that fact does not relieve us of the responsibility (and privilege) of routinely doing good works.
Purpose. The good works God has in mind for us to perform are neither nebulous nor pointless: they are always practical. The good deeds commanded in today’s text are of the type that are intended to “meet pressing needs” of others. Financial needs probably come first to mind. But the Spirit of God surely has a much broader opportunity than that. Brethren need help with tasks that illness or age prevent them from completing. They need help with tasks outside their skillset. And perhaps most importantly, others have spiritual need that press on them: need for comfort, consolation, and encouragement, but also prayer and biblical counsel. Nor should we ignore the sometimes unpleasant tasks of exhortation, reproof, and even rebuke. Wherever we see a “pressing need,” particularly in our brethren, we should do everything within our ability to meet that need.
Profit. God never commands His own to serve without blessing those who obey. In this case, He explains that obeying will result in the blessing of not being unfruitful. In meeting pressing needs, we will have fulfilled our purpose in life. We will aid others; we will honor the Lord who redeemed us; and we will receive immeasurably more in return. “Test me,” (i.e., by giving) the Lord said; see “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows” (Mal. 3:10). “Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over” (Lk. 6:38). Are you “engaged in good deeds”?
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