As I prepare for my seminar Friday at our National Conference on “Rethinking Productivity in Light of Justification by Faith Alone,” I'm realizing that a lot of things in my preparation probably won't make it into the actual seminar. Here's one such segment which, although it might not make it in to the seminar, is absolutely critical to the way we should be as Christians and why things like learning to be more productive matter:
Christians are to be eager and enthusiastic in dreaming up ways to do good for others. We are to not just to do good when the opportunity comes to us—although we are to do it then, also—but we are to think hard about ways we can be proactive in serving people. And we are to do this because we are excited about it and because we love to, rather than begrudgingly.
Jonathan Edwards makes this case very well in his book Charity and Its Fruits and his sermon “The Duty of Christian Charity to the Poor.” Charity and Its Fruits, in fact, is just as comprehensive in pulling together the Scripture’s teaching on love and good works as Edward’s other works are on God’s sovereignty and glory and other such doctrines. Edwards is a model for keeping teaching on both theology and practical deeds of love together, rather than focusing on one at the expense of the other.
Anyway, one of Edward’s arguments on how we should be eager in doing good comes from Paul’s discussion of giving in 2 Corinthians 8-9. In his discussion on giving, Paul speaks of how good it is that the Corinthians not only started to be engaged in the work of giving, but that they desired to do it (8:10). He encourages them to excel in the grace of giving (8:7). He speaks approvingly of how Titus was very earnest in his care for the Corinthians (8:16-17). Paul exhorts them to sow bountifully (9:6) and to give not reluctantly but cheerfully (9:7).
What Edwards brings to light is that what Paul is saying here about giving applies to good works in general. That is, we are to be earnest and eager and cheerful and bountiful and thoughtful and sacrificial in regard to all of our good works, not just giving.
In other words, Christians are to be thoughtful people who are eager to do good and proactive in it.
And, as an aside: if you can make it to the seminar, it's at 1:00 and also 3:00. It would be great to see you there!