You've heard me say it more than once, and I will reiterate it at the beginning of this devotional: good works don't save, but are a byproduct of our closeness to Jesus. Sometimes we take for granted the power of good works, because we want to feel adequate compared to others. There's even people in Christendom who will put others down for promoting or encouraging others to do good! One of the problems that come out of this tug-of-war of good works vs. grace is that people sometimes stop doing works all together because the matter gives them a headache. Instead, they give to charities (which is nice!), or to organizations that will do good on their behalf. I don't think charity is wrong by any means, but sometimes we use it as a substitute for what the word tells us to do:
In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
James 2:14-17 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. Quite simply: we represent our God by the good we do. We need to make sure that the good works aren't our penance (working out a deal with God so that we can get on his good side), but rather a byproduct of the faith and love we have for Jesus Christ. Sure, it requires sacrifice. That, in essence IS Christian Love: sacrifice! If you go out of your way, if you stop what you're doing, if it costs you something, if it costs everything; this is the love that Jesus has shown us, and would be the greatest example of His love through your deeds that someone else can see. Give freely and generously, without stipulation or expectation of recognition and reward. Keep the phone away, don't talk about it, but do good and give glory to God, that others, too, may give Him glory! Matthew 6:1-4 “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.
“Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.