Today I seem to be wrestling with the question “Will being a good person and doing good deeds get you eternal life?”.
And the honest answer is I don’t know. I know that this is something a lot of people, members of my family included, believe. That if they do good, and are a good person than, if there is an after-life, if there is a heaven, they will go there.
If you read Romans 2: 6-11 you will see that Paul states: “God will judge everyone according to his deeds. Those who do good will attain eternal life. Those who do evil will incur wrath. Those who do evil will suffer tribulation. Those who do good will receive glory. God will judge everyone impartially.”
And this isn’t the only place in the bible where the idea of being judged by your actions is presented. So, the question then becomes how does this fit into the idea Paul later presents that man can only be saved by grace through faith alone, apart from our works.? Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God;it is not from works, so that no one can boast.”
I mean, if all we need to do to get into heaven is do good deeds, then what was the point of Jesus dying on the cross?
Let me point out right now that I’m no religious scholar, these are just my thoughts.
Let’s go with the idea that people who do good deeds are judged based on their good deeds. But how many of us are Mother Theresa? I mean sure, I might do something good in any given day, hold the door, pay for someone’s coffee, spend time with someone who is sick or elderly. You know what I mean, right? But over the course of that same day, I probably also going to do some crappy things too, like yell at a driver who got in my way or wasn’t driving fast enough, take out my frustrations about work on my kids or my spouse or have a bad thought. The point is that there isn’t a day that goes by that I can look back and say I was perfect.
I think that is the point of Jesus dying on the cross. Sure, good deeds are important, and I absolutely think that they are a sign of God working in the world. A person who shows God’s love in their actions, even though they don’t yet know him, may be moving along the road to a heavenly journey. But can any of us, if we are really honest with ourselves, say that we can tip the scales in our favor by simply doing good deeds. Are they so much greater than the negative?
If you can say yes. Then I congratulate you and commend you. I do think some people are just born more good than others.
That being said, I know I can’t. I don’t, in my heart, believe that I am a good person. I can be a gossip and jealous and envious. I yell at my kids when they don’t deserve it. I yell at my husband when I’m frustrated. Do I try to do good things for the people around me? Do I try to live like Jesus and be loving and patient and gentle and kind? Absolutely! But not for a minute do I think that I can stack up enough good deeds to outweigh the bad. That’s just not how I’m made. But I don’t need to. That’s why I have Jesus.
Jesus took all of our sinful ways upon himself and laid down his life for us. The gift of his sacrifice means that I don’t have to be perfect. I don’t have to try to “good deed” myself into heaven. All I have to do is believe in him. And I think that really believing in him and making him a part of my life, makes me a more loving, gentle, patient and kind person. It makes me more good. I know my family thinks so.
So I guess the answer I’ve come to is that I’m sure there are people who can do enough good deeds to out weigh the bad, but I know I’m not one of them. If I’m going to heaven, it will be through my faith in the grace and love of Jesus.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this in the comments section below. And don’t forget to follow this blog if you’ve enjoyed reading it.