Glory and Honour and Peace

There will be trouble and calamity for everyone who keeps on doing what is evil—for the Jew first and also for the Gentile. But there will be glory and honour and peace from God for all who do good—for the Jew first and also for the Gentile. For God does not show favouritism.”
Romans‬ ‭2‬:‭9‬-‭11‬ ‭NLT‬‬

There is a dichotomy between evil and good, as Paul explained in these verses from his letter to the Roman Christians, that we are considering today. Considering a person’s behaviour, there is “trouble and calamity” for doing evil, and “glory and honour and peace” for doing good. Black and white. No shades of grey. But what does “for all who do good” actually mean. What was in Paul’s thinking?

There are plenty of verses in the Bible about doing good. In Galatians 6:9-10 we read, “So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith“. Doing good to everyone is not a difficult concept to understand. We look out for our elderly neighbour, helping them with shopping or a task in their house. We use our resources to perhaps take someone to hospital when they visit the out-patients. We provide a meal for someone in need. we help our children with their homework. The list of possibilities for doing good is endless. Doing good within our societies, communities and families holds them together, as otherwise they would fall apart.

But these are all ways in which we do good to others. But what about doing good to ourselves? We read in Philippians 1:6, “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns“. We must also consider doing good to ourselves. Now, this is far more contentious because it means we should perhaps be considering our inner persons, body, soul and spirit. Take our bodies, for instance. I think we will all agree that some foods are good for us, and others are not. Should we be considering doing good to ourselves by eating the right foods in the correct quantities? And are we engaged in practices that are harmful to our bodies? Enough said on that one! And then we have our spirits. They need feeding as well. A daily diet of Scripture and prayer can only do us good.

Paul said we will receive “glory and honour and peace” by doing good. Honour may happen in our lifetimes, recognised perhaps by an award of one kind or another. But most people who are doing good will not be recognised in this life. It’s the same with glory. Something that we are banking for the next life. However, we can experience peace in our lives today. That comfort we achieve in knowing that the life of someone around us has been made a bit easier. Peace, because we don’t have on our consciences something we should have done for someone else, but didn’t do it. Peace, in these troubling and challenging times is something that is invaluable.

We pilgrims are the glue that holds our societies and communities together. And we achieve that by doing good. Being examples to those around us. Doing good enables us to enjoy “glory and honour and peace from God” both is this life and in the life to come. 

Dear Father God. You have blessed us so much. We thank You and worship You today. Amen.

 

Rewards

“Remember that the Lord will reward each one of us for the good we do, whether we are slaves or free.
Ephesians‬ ‭6:8‬ ‭NLT‬‬

In this verse, Paul told his friends in Ephesus that, in the end, only two things matter – that one day they will be rewarded for the good they have done, and, by implication, it doesn’t really matter how they were spending their lives, in slavery or freedom, because it was their attitudes that mattered.

Taking the second point first, this is very applicable to pilgrims today. We won’t all have degrees, or be academic wizards. We won’t all be blessed with entrepreneurial prowess or political abilities. Or any other human attribute considered a great to have. All God is asking us is that we use what gifts we have, and set our hands to our work, no matter how lowly a job might be considered, with the right attitudes. We saw in a previous verse that we must do what we do “as to the Lord”, and when we live and work in that way, we are putting our lives into God’s reward zone.

Was Paul implying that there was some connection between our salvation and doing good? This is an error adopted by some Christians, who think they have to earn their salvation. But the reality is that no matter how hard we try, we will never have the abilities or resources to reimburse God for what He has done for us through Jesus. On a scale of one to a thousand, we won’t even move the pointer off zero. In Ephesians 2 we read, “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it”. Seems quite clear to me – we are saved by grace alone. We are saved because of God’s unmerited favour towards us. All we have to do is put our faith in Jesus, that He came to this world to save us. We read in Romans 10, “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved”. No mention here of working for God, or doing good to others, to get into Heaven.

So what did Paul mean that we will be rewarded for doing good? I suppose, logically, doing good to others is part of our commission in sharing the Gospel. Doing good may be as little as sharing a kind word or putting away a neighbours trash bin. Or it may mean visiting a sick friend or neighbour in hospital. The possibilities for doing good are endless. Jesus said in Luke 6, “But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you”. Pilgrims spend their lives focused on their life-journey and its Heavenly goal, and in the process, we do good to and for others, whether we like them or not. In some inexplicable way, it’s part of the journey.