‘Works’ shaming

... Michael and the Other Bodiless Powers - Orthodox Church in America
Christ surrounded by Archangel Michael and other bodiless powers of heaven.

But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, Matt 6:3, NIV

Works, like many biblical concepts, can be quite a controversial subject. Some people live their whole live sin an attitude of continual piety. Being so very careful so as not to cause others to sin, they even consider dressing plain to be an active part of their faith,or ‘work’. Giving to the needy is a work and one that is emphasized during the Nativity Fast which is currently being observed by those of the Orthodox faith.

Other people refuse the idea of Christians needing to do any sort of ‘work’ as part of their salvation beyond receiving, Jesus as their savior. Some of these same people will go so far as to sin thinking that deliberate sin also helps the grace of God to abound in their life. this is rank heresy but not what this post is about today.

Today, I’m writing about those people who post their ‘good deeds’ on Facebook and other forms of social media and then chastise their readers for not being as wonderfully kind heart and generous as they and if we were we’d all get along so much better so why can’t you be more like me… huh??? And breath.

If you are doing a good work and then talking about that good work in order to brag about yourself, or to shame other people, you are completely missing the point about ‘works’. Works, much like forgiveness, is about your heart. Not your neighbor’s heart. The good works you do are completely destroyed when you use your experiences to beat other people over the head about what you do vs. what they do, or do not do.

Acts 5:12-16

12The apostles performed many signs and wonders among the people, and with one accord the believers gathered together in Solomon’s Colonnade. 13Although the people regarded them highly, no one else dared to join them. 14Yet more and more believers were brought to the Lord—large numbers of both men and women. 15As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on cots and mats, so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. 16Crowds also gathered from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing the sick and those tormented by unclean spirits, and all of them were healed.

Oh, to have a shadow that heals! It would be far better for us to pray for gifts (the gift of healing is a work) of which we are not aware so that we cannot boast, than it is to do good works and boast of them to others, and still worse yet, use those gifts/works to shame other people.

I pray this message sinks deep into your hearts. Shaming people is bad enough but to do so using biblical doctrine on the concept of works is just plain slimy.

Here are 100 bible verses about, ‘works’. Go… read… be enlightened.

Lord have mercy.

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A word on fasting

Epiphanius, bishop of Cyprus, called the abbot Hilarion to see him. A portion of fowl was set before them and the bishop invited the abbot to eat. The old man said, “Forgive me, Father, but since the time I took this habit I have never eaten anything that has been killed.”

And Epiphanius said to him, “And from the time I took this habit I have let no man sleep who has anything against me, and neither have I slept holding anything against anyone.”

And the old man said to him, “Forgive me, Father, for your way of life is greater than mine” (The Sayings of the Fathers).

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While I am not a baby christian, I AM a baby Orthodox Christian. None of the churches I went to really spoke too much about fasting because they took the, ‘don’t talk about your fast’ phrase a bit too literal. The Orthodox Fathers have quite a bit to say about fasting, among other important things, so let’s listen to their wisdom!

One of the denominations I explored oh-so-briefly during my spiritual travels was the Anglican church. It was here that I first heard about people fasting from meat because it was good for the environment and good Christians don’t eat meat (according to their bishop). What?!   God made all of creation for man to enjoy… even if that meant putting some of those created things into a stew pot to be eaten later.

For the holy fathers taught us to be killers of passions and not killers of the body. Partake of everything that is permissible with thanksgiving, to the glory of God and to avoid boastful arrogance; but refrain from every excess (The Monks Callistus and Ignatius, 14th c., Directions to Hesychasts).

As we approach the 40 day Nativity Fast, it’s a good idea to take a look at why we fast. Do we do it to boast of our devotion to creation? The created things, or do we do it with humility before God? Search your heart for your true reasons behind your actions. God knows everything. We can hide nothing from Him. Make sure your motivations are pure.