John Chrysostom: Chief Work

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Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one He has sent.” John 6:29

“You shall find many which have not the true faith, and be not of the flock of Christ, and yet (as it appeareth) they flourish in good works of mercy. You shall find them full of pity, compassion, and given to justice; and yet for all that they have no fruit of their works, because the chief work lacketh.

For when the Jews asked of Christ what they should do to work good works, he answered: “This is the work of God, to believe in Him Whom He sent.” So that He called faith the work of God. And as soon as a man hath faith, anon he shall flourish in good works; for faith of itself is full of good works and nothing is good without faith.”

John Chrysostom as cited by Thomas Cranmer in “An Homily or Sermon of Good Works Annexed Unto Faith” (Cambridge: University Press, 1846) 143.

As I continue to explore compassion in relationship to generosity in 2020, I realize that ultimately it flows out of a chief work, that is, faith in Christ. So people can show compassion and do good works, but they will only flourish in them if they have faith.

My wife, Jenni, and I have started working on a 30-day devotional entitled, Flourish. I say this because if you notice the theme of ‘compassion’ intersecting with what it means to ‘flourish’ in my posts it’s because I am exploring those ideas together.

Let this be the lesson for today. If we want to grow in compassion or flourish in any wide array of good works, let us nurture our faith in Jesus Christ (or encourage people to embrace such faith), for out of that spring will flow an abundance of good works.