I've been thinking lately about the proper place of good works in the life of a Christian. Clearly, we are not saved by them (Titus 3:5-6, Ephesians 2:8-9, Romans 6:23, etc)--it is the grace of God alone that saves us. However, I think a lot of Christian miss the place of works post-salvation. Right after we are told "it is by grace you have been saved, through faith and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works so that no one can boast," we are also told in the very next verse "for we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do." (Emphasis added.) We're created for good works! How grateful I am that we are saved from the endless cycle of works for the joy of doing good works unto God's glory (1 Cor. 10:31).
Good works are utterly important in our Christian life, but they become so after salvation, not before. Galatians 5:22-23 lists nine traits that should be evident in the lives of all who profess Christ--love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Do these have anything to do with saving us? By no means, but they are ways the world knows we belong to Jesus. "By this, all men will know you are my disciples, if you have love for one another," John 13:35 tells us. Instead of viewing good works as burdensome, we who belong to Christ should find joy in doing them--it's our calling, joy and honor.