Do Not Delay in Doing Good

“Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it. Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come again, tomorrow I will give it”—when you have it with you” (Prov. 3:27-28).

There are many times where there’d be a certain thing I’d need to do or a certain opportunity I’d need to jump on that I’d say to myself “eh, I’ll do that tomorrow.” Sometimes it may be helping out a person in need. Often it’s little things like a chore, or an obligation, or even just sending back a text or an email. I may then reason with myself, “God is sovereign so it’ll all work out in the end even if something goes wrong.” Then lo and behold, something comes up that causes the opportunity to pass. While, yes, God remains sovereign and everything that happens is ultimately for my good, nonetheless there is a real good thing that I could have done that has passed away, solely because I used God’s sovereignty as an excuse for laziness.

In thinking on this, these types of situations happen because of two errors in my thinking. The first is a prideful presumption of the future. James describes this in his epistle saying,

“Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil. Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin” (Js. 4:13-17).

This prideful assumption that you know what tomorrow will hold, such that you can put off doing the good now, to tomorrow is evil. Any time you assume that you know what goes on in the secret will of God, is evil.

“We do not wish to inquire with undue curiosity into what he does that surpasses human understanding and is beyond our ability to comprehend. But in all humility and reverence we adore the just judgments of God, which are hidden from us, being content to be Christ’s disciples, so as to learn only what he shows us in his Word, without going beyond those limits” (Belgic Confession, Article 13).

The second type of thinking that leads to this behavior, is what I like to call, “Practical Hyper-Calvinism.” Regular Hyper-Calvinism is the belief that due to the fact that God is sovereign over election, the church does not have a duty to evangelize. Now this is clearly wrong, since evangelism is the God ordained means that Lord uses to save His elect. If we were to strip Hyper-Calvinism down to its basic logic, it’s something like this: “if God is sovereign over X, then man doesn’t need to participate in the means to X, in order for X to be accomplished.” A practical Hyper-Calvinist then, is someone who throughout their day-to-day life will reason with themselves saying,”God is sovereign so I don’t have to do this”. Or when combined with the first error,”God is sovereign so I don’t have to do this NOW”.

I once heard a sermon on Hyper-Calvinism in which the preacher made the claim that both Hyper-Calvinist and Arminians make the same fundamental error in their thinking. The Arminian denies the sovereignty, while the Hyper-Calvinist rejects the means. The true Calvinist however, affirms both. One thing I’ve realized, even in my own life, is that though doctrinally I’ll reject Hyper-Calvinism, I’ll often live my life like a practical Hyper-Calvinist which usually results in a lack of good deeds and bold actions for the sake of the kingdom. While I often use the sovereignty of God for an excuse to laziness, the Bible often uses the sovereignty of God as the motivation TO action.

  • All power has been given to Christ… therefore evangelize (Matt. 28:18-19).
  • God works in your salvation… therefore Work out your salvation (Phil. 2:12-13).
  • The LORD has delivered this battle into your hands… therefore go and defeat these people (I Sam. 17:47).
  • The old man has been crucified with Christ… therefore put the old man to death (Gal. 2:20).

Therefore, if you have an opportunity to do good, do not presume that you will have that opportunity tomorrow, Do not use the reality of God’s sovereignty to put it on delay, do the good now while it’s in your power to do so.

Mike Murrell

Luther on the Christian Life (7)

In chapter seven, Trueman deals with Luther’s view of righteousness in the Christian life. This question is one of the most important questions for the Christian life. How is a person righteous before God? What is the Christian’s righteousness? Basic to Luther’s understanding of righteousness is the distinction between alien and proper righteousness. Alien righteousness is the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ. It is called alien because it is not the believer’s own righteousness; it is Christ’s. God gives this righteousness of Christ to the believer by imputation (reckoning) so that the believer is judged innocent, as it were, it God’s court of law. Proper righteousness is the righteousness that becomes manifest in the believer’s life as a result of the believer’s Spirit empowered efforts to mortify the old man and do good works to the glory of God. In other words, it is the fruit of sanctification. Both kinds of righteousness are necessary for the Christian life.

The significant question for the Christian life is how these two kinds of righteousness are related. Luther’s answer is that Christ’s alien righteousness comes first. If he is to live well, the Christian must know that he is righteous in the sight of God. Recognition of Christ’s alien righteousness reckoned to the sinner is the antidote both for despair and for works righteousness. The believer who knows that he is clothed in Christ’s own perfect righteousness will not fear for his salvation, even when he beholds his own imperfection. Likewise, the believer will not strive to make himself righteous in God’s eyes by performing good works. He already understands that God has declared him righteous, and that nothing can be added to the righteousness of Christ. This understanding allows the Christian to live with assurance and to direct his life good works toward its proper goal: not earning salvation, but showing gratitude for salvation freely given. That is where proper righteousness fits. Living in the assurance of Christ’s righteousness, the Christian labors in love for God to do good works and keep God’s commandments.  The Christian does this to show His gratitude to God. Luther did not think that holiness in the Christian life could be reduced to the Christian’s ever-increasing sense of dependence upon Christ’s imputed righteousness. No, in the Christian life there is a genuine beginning of true holiness. The Christian makes progress in holiness as the Spirit sanctifies him. In this present life the Christian is always at once both righteous and a sinner.

Justin Smidstra

Be Zealous

“Who (Christ) gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” Titus 2:14

Friend, please read that again.

Do those words bring a prickle of shame? Do you feel guilt? I hope so. I know I do.

Has anyone ever told you that you’re peculiar? Most likely someone has at some point in time. Has anyone ever told you that you’re peculiar because you have shown yourself to be zealous in your service to the Lord? I doubt it. No one has ever told me that. And that’s certainly not to my credit, or yours.

What is zeal? Here’s the definition I found fitting: “great energy or enthusiasm in pursuit of a cause or an objective.” To be zealous is to pursue something with energy, to devote time and enthusiasm to a particular activity.

How often don’t we make comments about each other, noting the important things in each other’s lives? We often say “You can tell that basketball is important to him.” “She really cares about her school work.” “He puts so much effort into his job.” Our actions each day show what we value as most important. The things we’re excited about, discuss with our friends, and devote much of our time to are the things we’re zealous about. But why are the comments we always make pointing to zeal for earthly activities? There’s nothing wrong with being zealous for earthly activities – and often they’re good things to care about – but there is certainly an imbalance where spiritual activities are concerned. Is it because earthly things are easier to talk about than spiritual things? Perhaps, but I doubt it. I think we most often take note of the zeal for earthly things because most often that’s the only real zeal we are showing.

I very rarely am zealous in doing good works. I am next to never enthusiastic about sitting down for devotions time each day. Even when I do flee a particular temptation, I don’t follow the Lord’s will with great energy and excitement. I am far from zealous in being a servant of Christ. In fact, most days I am the exact opposite. I’m a sinful child, ungrateful and unwilling to obey my gracious Father. If you’re anything like me, the same is true of you. Zeal for the Lord seems like a lot to ask of us.

But Christ gave himself for me and for you, friend. Every bit of himself, offered for us. And what does he ask in return? He asks for energy and enthusiasm in doing the good works He calls us to. And we often feel like he asks too much? We ought to be humbled by his grace. Ashamed of our attitudes.

“As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten; be zealous therefore, and repent.” Revelation 3:19

Repent, friend. And then go out today, and tomorrow, and every day and be consciously, actively zealous to the point of peculiarity. Be excited when you open your Bible for devotions tonight, rather than opening it out of a sense of duty or guilt that you haven’t lately. Be the peculiar one, the one zealous enough to tell your friends that you won’t watch the movie they’re popping in when you know that none of you should be watching what will come up on that screen. Be zealous enough to drive to school in silence because every song you flipped through on the radio was filled with profanity or inappropriate lyrics. Be enthusiastic as you encourage and help others. Whatever good works the Lord calls you to, do them not because it’s commanded, but do them because you have a thankful, grateful, zealous heart. Be zealous to the point that others see that the work of the Lord is the most important thing you do during your day.

Anna Van Egdom