Dan Cathy, president of Chick-fil-A (hold your opinions) quoted Matthew 5:16 this way: "Let your light so shine before others that they may see your clean parking lots and give glory to your father in heaven." He replaced Jesus' phrase "good works" with the specific and concrete example of "clean parking lots." His whole business model is based off of this idea. Matt Perman (author of What's Best Next) says Cathy is right on: "since good works are the things we do every day in faith (Jesus definition of good works: things done in faith) then things like clean parking lots, swept floors, going to meetings, designing bridges, changing diapers, and making chicken sandwiches can indeed be good works!"
Good works. God created us for good works. In the book of Ephesians...we are even called God's good work...created FOR good works. Created with a purpose, for a purpose. How sweet.
And then to add more kindling to the fire, according to 1 Timothy 5:10 raising children is a good work: "....and having a reputation for good works: if she has brought up children, has shown hospitality, has washed the feet of saints, has cared for the afflicted, and has devoted herself to every good work." Paul just listed examples of good works - first on the list - raising children. Perman states that we don't have to go to Africa, quit our jobs or change our lives to do good works....it is right here. Right now.
"So what we see in Scripture is that "good works" are not just spiritual things we do, or hard and rare endeavors. They are anything we do in faith, which includes the mundane activities of everyday life like raising kids, going to work and even tying our shoes."
Holding my cooing son this morning while trying to drink coffee as it's still hot (do moms ever get hot coffee?) and helping my oldest son get his shoes on after he tied 4 double knots in them and hearing my daughter call out that she is, indeed, awake.....it is a good work. The life I am living is a life of good works. Be encouraged! Your apartment you have kept clean, have made beautiful - that space on earth you have domain over is a good work. Clipping tiny fingernails and washing faces and holding crying almost 3 year olds after they run through a thorny raspberry patch - this is a good work. Hosting a cookout for your family in town, baking and cooking for all to enjoy and playing War with your grandson...these are good works (I watched my parents do this yesterday....as they AMAZINGLY celebrate 40 years of marriage this week).
You are doing it. It is not far, it is near. Enjoy your good works today.
(I am reading "What's Best Next" by Matt Perman where he brought these ideas to light for me....)