Jonathan Edwards answers questions on doing good.
(From Lecture V – Charity disposes us to do good in Charity and Its Fruits)
How can we do good to others?
1. People may do good to the souls of others.
God has given you the opportunity of doing “eternal” good to others. If you have the ability to do “eternal” good to someone, it is like you have the ability to give someone else more than all the riches of the universe.
We can accomplish this kind of eternal good in a number of different ways:
*Instructing those who need teaching
*Warning them about temptation
*Encouraging them to obey God
*Rebuking those whose are disobeying God’s Word
*Showing other people how to put God’s Word into practice
*Challenging other people to be committed to biblical friendships
*Exhorting those who are becoming careless about their relationship with God of the danger they are in
*Sharing the gospel with someone who does not know it
*Comforting another believer who is hurting
*Helping someoen overcome a temptation
*Giving someone who is doubting reasons they can trust in God
*Being a means of strength for someone who is weak
2. People can do good to others in outward things and for this world.
We believe God speaks to us through means – He uses His Word, He uses people to speak to us. God provides for people in a similar way – it is not usually manna out of heaven – it is through His people looking out for those who are hurting.
God requires us to give to others. (Luke 6:38)
God requires us to do for others. (1 Thess. 2:9)
God requires us to suffer for others. (Gal.6:2;1 John 3:16)
Who should we do good to?
1. We should do good to both the good and bad.
This is part of imitating God. (Matt.5:43)
“We should, indeed, especially ‘do good to them that are of the household of faith,’…but though we should most abound in beneficence to them, yet our doing good should not be confined to them, but we should do good to all men, as we have opportunity.”
2. We should do good to both friends and enemies.
While it is obvious that we should actively seek to do good to our friends because of the affection we have for them, we also need to do good to our enemies.
We are after all repeatedly commanded to do good to our enemies. (Matt.5:44;Romans 12:17,21;1 Thess.5:15;1 Peter 3:9)
Also, really anyone and everyone tends to do good to people that they like. There is nothing unique or supernatural about that. Hitler, was kind to certain people. What makes for true, supernatural, God-given virtue is when you have a real self-sacrificing loving attitude for all people.
3. We should do good to the thankful and the unthankful.
Again, this is a be like God thing. (Luke 6:35)
“Many make an objection against doing good to others, saying ‘If I do, they will never thank me for it; and for my kindness, they will return abuse and injury:’ and thus they are ready to excuse themselves from the exercise of kindness, especially to those who have shown themselves ungrateful. But such persons do not sufficiently look at Christ; and they shew either their want of acquaintance with the rules of Christianity, or their unwillingness to cherish its spirit.”
How should we do good to others?
You can sum the answer to this question up in one word: freely.
To get more specific though, doing good freely means:
1.) We don’t do good to receive something back from others.
Jesus says do good and lend, hoping for nothing again. (Luke 6:35)
This is why doing good to the poor and needy is a real opportunity because they do not have the ability to give much back ot you. (Luke 14:12-14)
To do good freely means we aren’t motivated to do good for the sake of something we can gain, whether it be material or even in terms of our reputation with other people.
2.) We do good cheerfully and heartily, with a real desire to benefit the person we are serving.
Some of the ways the Scripture puts it, “show hospitality without grudging…”, “he that gives, give with a sincere heart”; “God loves a cheerful giver…”
If you really have the best interests of other people in mind, you won’t just feel pity for them when they are doing worse for you, you will feel joy for them when they are doing better than you.
3.) We should be zealous about doing good. We should give generously.
Again, the Scripture puts it like this: “abound to every good work” “be enriched in everything to all bountifulness…”
How can you prove doing good is such an important part of being a Christian?
This is not really a very hard question to answer, after all:
1.) The greatest commandment is to love God and to love others, and what does it mean to love others but to desire and seek after their good? In our day when you love someone it usually is because of something they can do for you, but in the Bible when you love someone it has more to do with what you can do for them.
2.) How else can you be sure that you really love someone, if that love doesn’t motivate you to do something for them.
“The proper and conclusive evidence of a man’s sincerely desiring the good of another, is his seeking it in practice – for whatever we truly dsire, we do thus seek.”
For proof of this, check out 1 John 3:18,19 and James 2:15,16.
Since doing good, really doing good can be so hard, what encouragement can you give me to work hard at doing good to others?
1.) Think about what a privilege it is to be an instrument of God in doing good in the world. “When we fill up our lives with doing good, God puts the high honor on us of making us a blessing to the world…” It is kind of like God makes us like himself when we do good – a fountain of good, pouring out blessings on others.
2.) Think about the encouragement you have received from people doing good to you. If you love it when people look out for your needs and are for you even when you are not all that worthy of it and sacrifice so that you can enjoy life more, seek to make what you say you respect so much in others true of your life as well.
3.) Think long and hard about how kind God is to you every day.
4.) Think about the great rewards God promises to those that freely do good to others because of their knowledge of God’s love for them and their desire to show love to Christ. There’s hardly any command in Scripture that God gives more encouragement to pursue than this one.
If you want to encourage yourself, check out Ps.18:25, Acts 20:35,Prov.16:17,Luke6:38,Prov.11:24,Prov.28:27,2 Cor.9:6-8, Prov.10:22, Luke 12:33,Luke 14:13,14,Mt.25:34-36.