Q: Does God care about our good works?
A: God does indeed care about our good works. Good works are a natural byproduct of salvation and serve to assure us that God has saved us (Matt. 7:16). Scripture also says that we are created for and saved to do good works and that God has prepared them in advance for us to do (Eph. 2:10). So, in the life of a believer God is absolutely concerned with our good works. However, we must never begin to think that our good works save us. They do not. We are saved by faith in Jesus Christ and that faith manifests itself in a desire to do good works that glorify Him. In terms of non-believers though, like you mentioned, their good works account for nothing in terms of salvation. Isaiah laments in Isaiah 64:6 that “all of our righteous [good] deeds are as filthy rags….” What he’s referring to here is or right standing before God. We can sell all that we have and we can be the world’s most thoughtful and generous philanthropist but that will in no way justify us before God. That’s what Isaiah is saying. So, while God does delight in our good works and expect us to do good things for others, He does not delight in our good works if we look at them in terms of earning our salvation. To claim that we can do enough good to merit God’s favor or to make God happy with us is to reduce God to an employer who gives us what we deserve.
That being said, when we look at folks like Gandhi or Oprah, while they are indeed
potential instruments used by God to do good we have to remember that what’s good in
God’s eyes are good works that are the overflow of a heart committed to Him and seeking Him and Him alone. While we can certainly give thanks to God for using people like Gandhi and Oprah to do wonderful things, we must also remember that He ultimately desires our good works to be done out of love for others AND in honor to Him for our salvation.