Faith without works is dead. Faith works by love.
That being the case, many look at their lives and say, “Works? Yup, got those, therefore I must have faith.”
Doesn’t always work that way.
Pharisees illustrate this point best. Before Jesus talks about the parable of the Pharisee who thanks God he isn’t like the publican, Luke says “he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others.”
Trusting in your works is not the point. Works flow out of faith. Works don’t create faith, nor do they substitute for faith.
Works that come from faith don’t lead to arrogance or pride. They are not done for recognition. They don’t result in the worker needing to be praised or even thanked.
Jesus tells another parable about a guy with a servant. They work in the field. After work the master tells the servant to go make supper. Does the master “thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I think not.”
“So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.”
When you do what you are supposed to do, you shouldn’t expect a celebratory parade. This is one of the downfalls of the self-esteem movement, where everyone is a “hero” for doing their job and everyone gets a ribbon for showing up.
Obedience is a much under-served topic in Christianity today. We don’t like to view ourselves as slaves of Christ. We like our freedom lingo much better. When free people take the time to do something for someone else, they think it’s something special and worthy of reward.
Slaves don’t think that way. Slaves know their duty and do it. Then they make the Master lunch, and then go home and sleep.
The difference between our slavery to Christ and the negative view of slavery often on display in the world, is that our Master loves us and only commands what is good for us and Him anyway. There really is no drudgery to serve Him. It’s easy and light, in fact.
It’s a beautiful thing. Works out of faith don’t look for recognition and pats on the back. It was our joy to do them to begin with. In the end, our efforts are so pitiful in light of what He has done for us, we hardly think on them further.