January 19, May 20, September 19
Chapter 4: What Are the Instruments of Good Works
22. Not to give way to anger.
23. Not to nurse a grudge.
24. Not to entertain deceit in one’s heart.
25. Not to give a false peace.
26. Not to forsake charity.
27. Not to swear, for fear of perjuring oneself.
28. To utter truth from heart and mouth.
29. Not to return evil for evil.
30. To do no wrong to anyone, and to bear patiently wrongs done to oneself.
31. To love one’s enemies.
32. Not to curse those who curse us, but rather to bless them.
33. To bear persecution for justice’ sake.
34. Not to be proud.
35. Not addicted to wine.
36. Not a great eater.
37. Not drowsy.
38. Not lazy.
39. Not a grumbler.
40. Not a detractor.
41. To put one’s hope in God.
42. To attribute to God, and not to self, whatever good one sees in oneself.
43. But to recognize always that the evil is one’s own doing, and to impute it to oneself.
As I read this list, I notice that there are things I don’t think of as “good works.” I think of these as character traits to be aspired to. Yet, just using the phrase “aspired to” clues me in that yes, if I aspire to something I am working toward it. I work on these things within myself because I want to love God with every fiber of my being and to love my neighbors as myself. And not just in theory. I want to actually be this love.
Yet every day some thought or something elicits a knee-jerk reaction out of me that bears no resemblance to these qualities above that I claim that I aspire to realize within myself. So, yes, these are good works.