Then Peter opened his mouth and said: 'In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.'
For as the body without the Spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
Consider these synonyms of righteousness: 'Virtue, justice, honour, equity, integrity, goodness, morality, honesty, purity, faithulness' (Collins Thesaurus). How many people can describe their work in these terms? For sure, only One: Jesus.
Thank God, Jesus completes His believers with His righteousness.* But He also completes our work the same way: We do our best--God does the rest: 'Being confident of this very thing, that He Who has begun a good work in you will complete it' (Philippians 1:6)--with His righteousness.
On the other hand (not God's), church goers debate salvation: Is it guaranteed by faith alone? Is it proved by our works? Should we have both? I believe James answered these questions clearly:
'Someone will say, 'You have faith, and I have works.' Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe--and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?' (James 2:18-20).
Here's how I see it: when church goers pay lip service to faith without the righteous works to prove it (in the outside world, where Christians are commissioned to shine), they are trees without fruit. The Parable of the Barren Fig Tree reveals a dire fate for God's workers bereft of fruit.**
Because His servants must offer food to a starving world. 'Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good' (Psalm 34:8). 'For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them' (Ephesians 2:10).
Actors, models and talent for Christ: Your best work is not on your resume. Those are just jobs that set you up for your real work: righteous behavior—like 'Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control' (Galatians 5:22-23). It's also called fruit.
So, in every waiting room, casting office, shopping mall or set--offer the tired, sick, lonely or imprisoned this life-giving food.
'Now may the God of peace Who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the Blood of the everlasting Covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His Sight, through Jesus Christ, to Whom be glory forever and ever' (Hebrews 13:20-21).
To Be Continued...
* The righteousness of Christ covers those who believe: http://www.gotquestions.org/imputed-righteousness.html
** The Parable of the Barren Fig Tree: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+13%3A6-9&version=NKJV
P.S. To read the other devotions in this series, please see the Twelve Steps To Heaven series.