Jesus said, “Every tree that doesn’t bear edible fruit is cut down and thrown on the fire.”
— Matthew 7:19 (USC)
HARSH words are not foreign to Jesus, yet we often wish to pretend he was all love and peace.
The truth is Jesus also spoke of swords, division, and consequences for evil. And the evil in sight here is simply the evil of a ‘faith’ that does not produce good works. It’s a faith that cheapens grace that we are concerned about, here. If we do not produce good works, we may often be found doing the Kingdom of God a great injustice in our hypocrisy.
The vertical faith must come first.
By this I mean, our relationship with God through the Holy Spirit. As we continue to scrape the beam from our own eye in preference to judging another person (removing their speck) God speaks to us affirmatively and we grow.
The horizontal faith is always highly contingent on the vertical faith.
The horizontal faith is performed in the arena of our relationships. Good works are primarily, and possibly only, about how we bless others and do not curse them.
Good works are not necessarily about tangible almsgiving or services rendered.
Good works are about doing justice, showing mercy, and walking humbly.
When our vertical relationship with God is kept sound — day by day, hour by hour — we are then oriented toward justice, mercy, and humility. Nothing else matters.
When nothing else matters than doing justice, showing mercy, and walking humbly, we become agents of beneficence, confidants of the Spirit, and propagators of his grace.
When nothing else matters — when we have lost our lives in the doing of justice, showing mercy, and walking humbly — we cannot help but produce good works.
Faith is doing justice, showing mercy, and walking humbly.
Faith is not how much we know, but how much we know and love Jesus. Faith is another Kingdom reversal — the less of ourselves we ‘bring’ to God, the more he can do through us.
Consider your life and what you do,
Come from the position of holding true,
If good works don’t come we may be a liar,
And Jesus said, we may be good only for fire.
QUESTIONS in REVIEW:
1. Do you fear that your good works won’t be enough; that you don’t bear enough good fruit? If so, what does Jesus say for you to rectify the situation?
2. What good fruit and good work is the Holy Spirit affirming in you today? It’s not for pride, but for clarity. How we you use what he has done through you to further the Kingdom more?
© 2015 S. J. Wickham.
Note: USC version is Under the Southern Cross, The New Testament in Australian English (2014). This translation was painstakingly developed by Dr Richard Moore, a NT Greek scholar, over nearly thirty years.