The responsibility of each believer to live a life worthy of the Lord pleasing Him in every way by bearing fruit in every good work and growing in the knowledge of God (Colossians 1:10; Ephesians 2:10).
Faith and deeds
To live a life worthy of the Lord we need, first and foremost, to be obedient to His will in our lives. In a nutshell this requires us to show evidence of our faith in the form of good works. If we were put on trial for our Christian faith, would there be enough evidence to convict us? That is a salutary question we need to ask ourselves. In Ephesians 2:8 Paul writes that "it is by grace you have been saved, through faith", but Ephesians 2:10 tells us that having been saved, "we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do", and those good works are clearly set out for us in Ephesians chapters 4-6, and elsewhere. The result of putting our faith in Christ Jesus and being saved is that we do good deeds. In Scripture, faith and deeds are inextricably linked together, one with the other. John 6:28-29 says, "Then they asked him, 'What must we do to do the works God requires?' Jesus answered, 'The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.'" However, James 2:14 adds, "What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him?" A saving faith, then, is one that manifests itself in good deeds. James 2:22, referring to Abraham, says, "You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did." If we are to live a life pleasing to the Lord, then it is of utmost importance that there is evidence of our faith in the form of good works. Titus 3:8 expresses this clearly, "And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone."
The will of God
1 Thessalonians 5:12-18 is very practical, and it spells out for us what the will of God is for our lives. The will of God consists of many things such as respecting those in authority over us, living in peace with one another, encouraging, helping and being patient with others, not taking revenge, being kind to everyone and remaining joyful, prayerful and thankful. Verse 18 then concludes "for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus". God is most concerned about the way we treat others, the way we conduct ourselves, and the way in which we choose to use our money and our time. In other words, the will of God is that we should display good works in our lives. Colossians 1:10 says "We pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God." Again, this verse spells out very clearly how we may please the Lord in our lives. We should bear fruit in every good work. The fruit of the Spirit is described in Galatians 5:22 as "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control". Many of these qualities are mentioned in 1 Thessalonians 5:12-18 quoted above, and showing such qualities in a practical way forms part of our good works. The second part of Colossians 1:10 mentions growing in the knowledge of God. Although this includes learning about God from the Scriptures, and getting to know Him as a Person, the word for 'knowledge' in the Greek does not stop there. The word used is epignosis which can take the meaning 'acknowledgement'. Not only does this mean 'knowing' God, it also means putting that knowledge into practice. What good is knowledge if it is not used in a worthwhile way? As 1 Corinthians 8:1 says, "Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up." A practical demonstration of love for others should be the natural outcome of our greater knowledge of God and His will.
What good deeds should we be doing?
1 Timothy is a very practical letter written by Paul, and in it he gives a number of examples of the sort of good deeds people should be doing as evidence of their faith. 1 Timothy 5:10 is addressed to widows who were to do such things as bring up children, show hospitality, wash the feet of the saints, help those in trouble and so on. 1 Timothy 6:18 is addressed to those who are rich, telling them to be rich in good deeds, to be generous and willing to share. It is clear that whatever our talents or resources may be, we should use them for the Lord. If we have time, we should use it to help others. If we have money, we should use it to help others. There are many examples throughout Scripture of the sort of things we should be doing as a practical outworking of our faith. However, if ever we feel we haven't the strength to do these things, then we are wrong. We can always call on the power of the Holy Spirit to strengthen and enable us to so such good deeds (Ephesians 1:19; 3:16-17). None of us should be unsure of what the good works are, for they are clearly spelled out in the Scriptures. 1 Timothy 5:25 says "good deeds are obvious, and even those that are not cannot be hidden." We are not to hide our good deeds. This is mistaken humility. The main reason for our good deeds is to "love our neighbours as ourselves", and one of the results of our active love is that it is a witness of our faith in Christ. It is evidence of and a testimony to Christ who cannot be seen.
Deeds are a witness
Matthew 5:16 says, "Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." 2 Corinthians 8:21 says, "We are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of men." Romans 12:17 says, "Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody." It is important that in living lives to please the Lord we should also take into account the appearance of our lives to other people. After all, it is our lives and our deeds that will have a far greater impact on unbelievers than anything we can say. 1 Peter 2:12 says, "Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God." Verse 15 of the same chapter continues; "For it is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men." Deeds are evidence of faith. God Himself tells us in the Scriptures that the best way of witnessing about Him is by putting our faith into practice.
Encouraging one another
It is so important that we put our faith into practice that we are exhorted to encourage one another to do so. Hebrews 10:24 says, "And let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds." This is another way in which we can please the Lord in our lives. Not only should we put our own faith into practice, we can also encourage one another to do so, and in this way we will be a positive influence on one another. This is one important reason for getting together with other believers and having fellowship with each other. We should uplift one another, help one another, pray for one another, and encourage one another to do good. In this way we will please the Lord.