Forgive me the liberties I’ve taken with the text (I aspire to be the next Eugene Peterson, only without the trite and cheesy* colloquialisms):
Don’t fool yourselves or turn up your noses at God’s contract. It’s a simple kingdom truth that wages are determined by performance. If a man works selfishly and for his own good, he’ll receive death. But if he works in order to please God, his salary will be true life — and he’ll enjoy that life forever.
So don’t entertain thoughts of starting your own private businesses. And don’t give up doing good and working for God. Because God’s salary and benefits package is far better than anything you could arrange for yourselves. [His retirement plan’s not bad, either.] Take advantage of every opportunity that arises; if you’re able to assist someone, do. And you should especially lend a hand to other employees in God’s kingdom.
— Galatians 6:7-10 (my own very loose translation)
judged by our works
A lot of Christianity frowns on talk of good works being rewarded. “Eternal life is a free gift, and you can’t earn it,” they say. I’m not suggesting salvation can be earned. But we can’t deny that the Bible says a great deal concerning our being judged by works and reaping what we sow. This is a kingdom principle. The truth of the matter is that a true Christian shouldn’t be concerned by this, as faith manifests itself in love for God and love for others. And these are necessarily demonstrated by good works.
the fruits of selfishness
While living selfishly seems to bring us great pleasure, Paul is clear that, in reality, it results only in death. We would do well to consider the future implications of our behavior today. Pray that God will help us to see well in advance the fruits of those things we do in the present.
transformed thinking necessary
“As we have opportunity, let us do good…” Pray that God will help us to notice the opportunities we have to do good. I’m afraid I often miss these occasions — not because of a reluctance to help others, but rather because of a failure to be conscious of their needs. This seems to be at the root of the problem. If my thinking is selfish, then my actions will necessarily be so. In order to take advantage of opportunities to help others, I must be thinking of others. A self-centered attitude yields service to self. While an others-based view of the world produces compassion and kindness.
responsibility to help other christians first
Christians are called first to help one another. We often ignore this principle (which is found throughout scripture) because we think of it as selfish. We prefer to give to the poor in rural Tanzania or to the homeless in New Orleans because (my guess) it makes us feel good. But proper kingdom giving begins with giving IN the kingdom. It may not be as sexy as feeding the poor in Haiti or providing water for a village in Sudan, but it’s a kingdom principle.
We’re meant to demonstrate to the world how the family of God functions. [You could call it a missionary principle.] I’d argue this is God’s form of attractional ministry: that Christians love one another and take care of one another. [Not that we have a great praise band and let visitors park near our front doors.] For a little more on the subject, see giving: the seventh year and debts.
May God empower us to take every opportunity to do good works. May he make us a less selfish people, and may he be glorified in our willingness to serve others.
* You know, it’s sad that the word “cheesy” is in and of itself cheesy. I generally don’t use it, but the irony struck me as humorous today. It is, however, slightly better than “corny.”