Blessed Are Ye If Ye Do Them
“Always follow after that which is good, one toward another, and toward all”
(1 Thessalonians 5:15 ASV. Other texts from NAS 1995, except as noted).
By Jerry Nagy
The Apostle Paul says, “So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith” (Galatians 6:10).
Have we considered that doing for others is a doctrine of our faith? Many Christians do have the idea that when the opportunity to help someone falls into their lap, they respond with advice, materially, and possibly financially. These are good things, and sometimes necessary, to do even from a worldly standpoint.
It is an interesting study to look at our doctrines, the tenets of our faith. In reviewing several publications on this very important subject of doing good, we found it elemental to our belief and the corresponding actions attached to it. Both on the surface and in deeper meaning, it is one of the most powerful and essential requirements for all who are thoroughly consecrated to Our Heavenly Father.
Those who have consecrated their lives to the Lord should have a deeper understanding and responsibility regarding “doing good.” In our efforts to follow our God-given instruction, we respond by providing the basic needs, physical and mental, to others around us. But our commission is applicable to all people. How could we possibly be of help to all people, not only in our towns, cities, countries, but to all people in the world? We must start in small ways — with ourselves. Our attitude and desire must be developed to watch and look for opportunities, and then to act to the extent of our abilities. To do good there must be both intention and exertion. We are to do it not only when it is convenient, nor to do it to profit us or to increase our fame, which may fester pride. If we have the opportunity to do good, we are to do it with joy, being thankful to the Lord for the privilege. Yes, it does cost us time and energy, the crimping of our plans, and perhaps costing us financially. This is the sacrifice of giving. Matthew 6:3 says, “But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.”
The proper application of having a sound mind would also dictate a proper balance in the extension of self to others. We may recognize the spirit of our fallen fellow human beings and thus discern the appropriate extent of our involvement. We have also the command to “make every effort to add to your faith goodness” (2 Peter 1:5). We should be known for our kind and morally good characters.
We let our light shine before others, that they may see our good deeds and glorify our Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16). Our works and attitude must point in the direction of our Heavenly Father, and give honour and glory to His Character. This is the reason we do the things we do — why we try so hard to develop our characters to be molded into that of His Son Jesus. John 13:35 reads, “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” This love for all was an example set by our Lord. By our works, both in ourselves and for others; it will be manifest to every one with whom we come in contact.
Hebrews 13:15 says, “Through him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.”
We have all encountered individuals who express a very negative and base character as a result of the fall of man. We should not return evil for evil (Romans 12:17). Instead, we transform our natural reaction into total obedience to the law of love. Therefore, we repay evil with good. (Romans 12:21). “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head” (Romans 12:20). The latter part of this scripture does not mean that we enrage their thinking, but quite the opposite. R5145:6 (as paraphrased in the “Expanded Comments”), “We shall by and by do this to those who now persecute us, by blessing them, opening the eyes of their understanding, and helping them onward and upward to a greater knowledge of God.” It is not that we do not see the evil, we often do, but we separate the evil act from the individual. Hate the sin and love the sinner! Our Heavenly Father will be the judge, and His judgement will be perfect in every case.
Looking at Matthew 22:39, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” to love means to look out for our friends and acquaintances in a social or moral sense. Continuing in Mark 12:31 (KJV), “And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.” These passages are the second commandment that our Lord inculcated to us. This commandment is explained further in James 2:8, “If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law according to the Scripture, ‘you shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing well.” These scriptures elevate the responsibility of “doing good” to a higher level, from a suggestion, to a commandment of the Lord to his people. Luke 6:35 adds, “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for he himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.”
A Parable of the Good Samaritan
Another example and illustration of our responsibilities is clearly given in Luke 10:25-37. When Jesus was asked by a lawyer, probably of the Sadducees, about inheriting eternal life and who his neighbour was, Jesus replied with a situation that posed an instructive question not only for this individual, but for all of his followers down through the age. To paraphrase: A man, who was on his way to Jericho, was robbed and beaten severely. As a priest, and later a Levite, who were on the same road from Jerusalem, came across the man, they passed him by, doing nothing for him.
Likely, they considered themselves more important than this poor individual. Being consecrated to the service of God in the temple, the priest and Levite were afraid they would be contaminated by even touching the sufferer. If the victim should die, they would be unclean seven days (Numbers 19:11). A Samaritan, who was looked down upon by the Jews, came along and had pity on the man. He dealt with his injuries, cleansed them, and took him to an inn. After so caring for him, the Samaritan paid for his care and keeping and offered to be responsible for anything added.
After this story, the question and answer that Jesus gave probes deep into our hearts. Every time we pass by an individual begging or one that is in need of a helping hand, this passage should come to mind. How do we respond in our day? “If we appreciate the conception of a true neighbor which our Lord gave, then let us observe the Golden Rule” (R5699:6).
Hebrews 13:16 says, “And do not neglect oing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” If our Heavenly Father is to be glorified, it must be in righteousness that we serve Him. We must try to serve with good intentions and pure actions when we offer our sacrifices to Him.
When Galatians 6:10 says, “do good unto all men,” it goes beyond the earthly application, and should enter into our higher thoughts and responsibilities. In the Emphatic Diaglott, in the Greek of this passage, there is the definite article “the” before “good,” rendering a focused application rather than an all-encompassing meaning of “good.” What could this signify? Galatians 6:10 begins with the words “so then.” Therefore, the apostle Paul refers to what he has previously stated in verse one, taking our attention back to the start of the chapter. Who is he addressing in this passage?
“Brethren” is the first word. After presenting our consecrations to Our Heavenly Father, we refer to ourselves as brothers and sisters in Christ. But we may expand the scope to include those who are just coming into the knowledge of the Father’s truth, the whole household of faith.
Witnessing to Our Heavenly Father’s Character
From these scriptures we infer that our conduct towards others is to be the witness of Our Heavenly Father’s character and His Plans and purposes to all men, especially to the household of faith. To those who are interested in coming closer to their Creator, to those who are in the school of Christ and perhaps need our encouragement and direction with the Holy Word, we are to be prepared, ready and willing to sacrifice. 2 Timothy 3:16,17 reads, “All Scripture is inspired by God, and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” We need both the tools [scripture] and the training to use them.
We are to be vessels that Our Heavenly Father uses to guide others in the truth. Therefore Isaiah 52:11 (KJV) says, “be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the LORD.”
Our life may be the only Bible our neighbors ever read.
Often, the only witness we can give is our attitude of sacrifice for others, by our works, rather than the spoken word. The understanding of others is sometime only appreciated in basic terms, so our communication has to be suited to each individual. We are ambassadors of our Heavenly Father; so we must learn to communicate His character, plans, and purposes with His direction and loving supervision, by our lives in public view, as well as in private with our families and friends. To our friends, we learn to present both Jesus and his Father, and present them in a way that represents their loving characters; and we invite our friends to get to know Them in a more personal way. This is “the good” that we are to continually practice and for which we are ultimately responsible.
It is not by works, but in works, that faith lives.
(Johann Wessel-Gansfort, 1419-1489, Netherlands)