Who are our good works for?

15 Apr

kidinpew“Does God need our good works?”

Lutherans like to say that our good works are for our neighbor, but there is more to be said here, even if the answer to the above question seems obvious.

Think about this: what is the fulfillment of the first table of the law (describing the believer’s duties before God), if it is not good works?  Yes, the first commandment includes trust in God, which we associate with faith, which we distinguish from the works of the law – but it also includes the fear and love of God.  Although our fulfillment of the first table of the law does not benefit God in anyway, it certainly is of benefit to all of God’s people.

Our good works are about God because we want to obey God.  And God desires works not because they are of benefit to Him, but benefit His people.  His people benefit from seeing others faithfully fulfilling the first table of the law.

Let me give an example.

My five children who accompany me to worship certainly benefit when they see others faithfully coming to sit at their Lord’s feet week after week. And they benefit when they see persons not taking God’s name in vain, but rather faithfully praying, praising, proclaiming and singing his Name and deeds. And of course they benefit hearing those very words that they say – words testifying to the One True God who alone is light, love and life.

Are they always paying attention? No. Might they doubt the sincerity of those around them? Sure – but less so those they know better. When they are paying attention, they will be convicted according to their old man, and encouraged according to their new man.

When I said this, someone else added the following wisdom:

“Notice the first person plural nature of the Lord’s Prayer. We do works in love for God and love for the neighbor but I don’t think we can ever separate the two and say that anything is done purely out of love for God without regard to the neighbor.”

Or vice versa, I would add.  In sum, faith is busy in good works the world does not necessarily see as such, and while we cannot use them to secure our justification, they often place us exactly where we need to be.

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Posted by on April 15, 2013 in Uncategorized


3 responses to “Who are our good works for?

  1. Matt Jamison

    April 22, 2013 at 11:01 pm

    Thanks for the complement!

    But I think this insight just strengthens the claim that good works are done ONLY for the benefit of the neighbor. Even our first table good works that we do “for God” are full of benefit for our neighbor. This makes sense, as God is so busy loving our neighbors that our love for Him is redirected toward them (well, it makes sense to me!)

    I think the vice-versa is a step too far. Our good works were prepared for us by God before the foundation of the World (1 John I think?) He gets 100% credit, we get zero credit. God places us exactly where we need to be. The Holy Spirit calls, gathers, enlightens and SANCTIFIES the whole Christian church on Earth and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith. Full stop.

  2. infanttheology

    April 23, 2013 at 12:21 pm


    Regarding the “vice-versa”:

    You said: “I don’t think we can ever separate the two and say that anything is done purely out of love for God without regard to the neighbor.”

    What I mean is that we can’t say anything is done purely out of love for neighbor without regard to God.

    As far as being where we need to be, I’d say this goes along with knowing and doing the whole counsel of God, with an emphasis on receiving His humble, simple, and “Spirit and life” words of forgiveness and salvation.


  3. lean body

    May 1, 2013 at 11:40 pm

    Nice post. I was checking continuously this blog and I’m impressed! Very helpful info specially the last part 🙂 I care for such information much. I was looking for this particular information for a very long time. Thank you and good luck.


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