About Good Works

"You see that...faith was completed by [Abraham's] works." (James 2:22)

What are the "works" that are the signs of living faith?

First, this is obedience to Jesus
This involves making disciples of Jesus, for Jesus: "Go...make disciples." (Mat 28:19-20) Yet within this command Jesus says, "teaching them to obey all I have commanded you." So obedience to the disciple-making command involves being alert to Jesus' teachings and commands.
To be at once specific and vague, this means love: "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you." (John 15:12) Jesus gives additional commandments, but they are all versions of, or examples of, this single, summary, command, on which all other commands depend. (Mt 22:37-40; Gal 5:14; Rom 13:9; Jam 2:8)

Second, these works involve "walking by the Spirit." (Gal 5:16; Rom 8:4; Acts 9:31) This is described in Galatians 5:22 by the "fruits" of, again, love and the ways love looks: the "how" to the "what" of Jesus' commands. The Spirit controls how we define love. History has proven that people can define love in self-serving ways. Not so if we obey Jesus and walk by the Spirit.

Third, let's get more specific. Let's talk about you. How is your faith going to work today?
Well... What am I struggling with now? In what ways am I being led to grow now? In what ways is the Spirit working in my life now? Who, and how, ought I to love now?
The fruit described in Psalm 1 is the juice of the Gospel presented to the world in my life, with the flavor, of me. An apple tree and a pear tree, side-by-side, enjoying the Gospel-River, are going to taste different. They'll both be sweet and refreshing. But one will taste better in pies, perhaps, and the other in jams.
You and I will struggle with different things because we're different people. We'll struggle with different things at different times in our lives. We will have different opportunities to love and serve, based on our different gifts, personality, abilities and experiences. So while we should all taste Jesus-sweet and be Spirit-refreshing, we should not all expect our faith's works to look the same.

Two Implications:
First, I don't always see the good that the Spirit is working in me. 
"Because I'm not a hand, I don't belong to the body," said the foot. (1 Cor 12:15) We tend to look at the ways other people are able to serve, how they're free from our struggles, and envy them. This demeans the work of the Spirit in our lives!
Pay attention to the ways you've grown, to the struggles you're still, by grace, fighting, and to the people you are called to serve. Obedience and Fruit and Works will always be a part of a genuine Christian life. But which, what, how, and where will be different and changing for all of us as we grow.

Second, I don't always see the good that the Spirit is working in you!
You obey Jesus in ways that I suspect aren't as important, or hard, as mine. You struggle against foes I think are too small, or too awful, for me to appreciate. I don't see how the treadmill you're on is faster or steeper than mine; I don't see how Jesus has sovereignly placed you for His Glory; all I see is that you're different from me. But "the eye cannot say to the hand, 'I have no need of you'." (1 Cor 12:21) And if we need each other, then that means that Jesus' needs us each in His Big Plan. We are each crafted, gifted, and placed, to be ourselves, walking by the Spirit in obedience to Jesus. 

And who knows what all we're accomplishing in our long struggles and our small victories? Jesus does.

So be patient with yourself. Be patient with each other. "Let us press on to know the LORD," and "press on toward the goal," and "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord." (Hos 6:3; Phil 3:14; 2 Pet 3:18) But let us do this with an appreciation for the different people, struggles, gifts, graces, and opportunities that King Jesus has given our team. We need punters to punt, and linemen to...line, man.

Praise God for the smorgasborg of Christian community. It's a big, beautiful work He's working. Our part is clear: obey Jesus, by the Spirit, in love, especially toward each other.

In the spirit of nice things to watch!