Why are we doing good works? Is it because we are workaholics? Is it because we have things to prove to our fellow Christian brothers and sisters? Or is because we do good works, because it makes God happy?
Sometimes in life we all need to step back and take a good look at the bigger picture. What’s the big picture for those who believe in Jesus Christ? Its simply this, am I spending time loving the Lord God instead of only being bothered about good works?
Here a lesson from the Gospel about Mary and Martha:
38 Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word. 40 But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. 41 And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: 42 but one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her. (Luke 10:38-42)
Do take note in the above verses in which Martha was doing good works in serving Jesus but her sister Mary (also these both were the sisters of Lazarus whom Jesus raised from the dead) was paying more attention to Jesus and listening to His Word. Martha had every reason to complain about Mary not helping her serving Jesus. However Jesus didn’t condemn Mary not Martha on this. But he showed Martha that she needed to get her priorities right towards the Lord. What could be this priority? Its that spending time with the Lord God with his Holy Word matters much more than doing good works serving the same Lord God. Don’t get me wrong, but Jesus never told Martha that the service she was doing was a sin or evil but rather he let her know not to get troubled in doing so much good that she forgets to wait on Him.
Verses to reflect on:
- Seek the LORD while you can find him. Call on him now while he is near. (Isaiah 55:6)
- Let all the world look to me for salvation! For I am God; there is no other. (Isaiah 45:22)
- But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. (Matthew 6:33)
Quite often there are Christians who work long hours at office. And this is not about earning that extra income to payoff a loan or anything urgent. This just to please their boss or immediate supervisor. So in this pursuit of people pleasing they miss attending church, they miss out on Bible study, they miss out on quality time with family etc. Then at time for the promotion or appraisal, the very same office leader just skips them and doesn’t give them what they sacrificed so much for. Instead such workers must try to complete the work on time and get valid written records of their work progress instead of relying on mere verbal nods from their leaders.
And to remind you about they missed out on in course of working extra hours, they missed on reading the word of God. Don’t tell me one can read the Bible at work even if one’s working overtime. Not every company allows this while the employee is at work. Only some work places might grant this. So balance out your reading of the Word of God in such a way that put it on top of your everyday to do list instead of waiting for the end of the working hours.
And what else is missed? Proper rest, sleep, household work such as cleaning up the room and checking for the letters etc. Plus even time to be with the family gets reduced.
Then remember how a good number of people get paid mere trinkets for all that overtime for boss pleasing. I’ve met many people who retired from their jobs but not one said that the management thanked them for all the extra time they worked. Not one bit of thanks for missing their family time, for missing church, for missing on their home duties etc.
One might have an excuse to work over time but remember its your decision in the end. It’s your choice to balance out your time and priorities for the Kingdom of God. Work is important but there is family and the will of God which are even more important. So please do leave office on time!
Verses for reflection:
A Song of Ascents. Of Solomon. Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. (Psalm 127:1)
“Woe to him who builds his house by unrighteousness, and his upper rooms by injustice, who makes his neighbor serve him for nothing and does not give him his wages (Jeremiah 22:13)
Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” (John 6:27-29)
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)
Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. (Ephesians 4:28)
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. (Colossians 3:23-24)
“Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.” 1 Timothy 4:8
Training oneself physically helps you stay fit and agile. Regular exercise prevent excess weight gain. To climb mountains, a person undergoes a lot of conditioning both physically and mentally. This helps one climb up and down the mountain safely and effectively.
Athletes and soldiers exercise almost everyday, so that they can be in prime fitness whenever needed. Even animals such as dogs and monkey do some form of excercise, which looks very amusing to me. Astronauts in space are needed to excercise to maintain optimum muscle function.
So I surely can say that physical training is good for you. What physical training you need to follow is up to you. You would need to a bit of personal research, though speaking to a professional can help too. If you are on medication take your doctor into confidence about what training program you intend to do.
Now, 1 Timothy 4:8 doesn’t say not to excercise physically. It rather shows that spiritual training or training for godliness is much more beneficial than physical training. Physical training helps us in this life. Spiritual training helps us in this life and the after life as well.
Now what does training for godliness include. It includes reminding yourself of your new nature in Christ. It includes honoring the sacrifice of Jesus in partaking of the Lord’s Supper. It includes reading the Bible with the intent to grow. It includes hearing the Gospel regularly. It includes
remembering the prophecies in the Bible. It includes using the gifts of the Holy Spirit. It includes avoiding being a ‘solo’ player in Church but instead helping others in it. It includes training yourself to pray in all forms, such a silent and vocal prayer, praying in tongues etc. It includes training yourself to worship Jesus with all your mind and strength.
So by now you may notice that spiritual training includes a lot of things. You need to train yourself against all attacks of the devil to steal your faith. You need to carry your cross daily. With mass media you can also read or hear and watch a lot of sermons on various spiritual topics.
I used to train myself a lot in casting out evil spirits. I didn’t bother to listen to any critic but decided to only use a bibical approach and avoid any foolish mystical stuff. This benefited me. On a few occasions that came up suddenly I found myself casting out demons though I was not an excorcist. This gave me a chance to preach the gospel even more to the affilicted person.
A point in spiritual training is that you must never overdo stuff and instead be balanced. I mean it’s really extreme to read books only on healing others most of the time but neglecting the overall training in godliness. With all due respect, you might become a good healer from God but you could miss on fellowship with other church members due to being constantly busy.
Too much emphasis on excorcism will make you concentrate on trying to detect spirits even in normal people. It can really annoy people in the business world if you are constantly talking about demons instead of work. You need to therefore take all spiritual training which will also teaches when and how to behave in a particular social setting.
With that said you must train for godliness in all areas adequately. If you are weak in a particular area like counselling a terminally ill person then do take help from people who are known to be proficient in that area. You can even ask the Lord to give you wisdom in that area and he will give it to you abundantly and without adding reproaches.
Take up training for godliness not in fear but with a desire to glorify God. Happy training!