World Scripture, A Comparative Anthology Of Sacred Texts

Editor, Andrew Wilson


Good Deeds

Good deeds are the manifestation of a healthy spiritual life. Good deeds create merit, improve one's relationship with God, and are the best way to annul the effects of past evil deeds.

Heaven is not attained without good deeds.

Sikhism. Adi Granth, Ramkali-ki-Var, M.1, p. 952

Many garlands can be made from a heap of flowers. Many good deeds should be done by one born a mortal.

Buddhism. Dhammapada 53

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Christianity. Ephesians 2.10

No one who does good deeds will ever come to a bad end, either here or in the world to come. When such people die, they go to other realms where the righteous live.

Hinduism. Bhagavad Gita 6.40-41

Be mindful of your duty [to God], and do good works; and again, be mindful of your duty, and believe; and once again: be mindful of your duty, and do right. God loves the doers of good.

Islam. Qur'an 5.93

Love covers a multitude of sins.

Christianity. 1 Peter 4.8

Good deeds annul evil deeds. This is a reminder for the mindful.

Islam. Qur'an 11.114

Whoever, by a good deed, covers the evil done, such a one illumines this world like the moon freed from clouds.

Buddhism. Dhammapada 173

Ephesians 2.10: Cf. James 1.25, p. 147. 1 Peter 4.8: Cf. Luke 19.2-9, p. 780; Ezekiel 33.14-16, p. 780; Isaiah 1.16-20, p. 629. Qur'an 11.114: Cf. Qur'an 25:71, p. 780; Visparad 15.1, p. 844.

I call heaven and earth to witness: whether Jew or Gentile, whether man or woman, whether servant or freeman, they are all equal in this: that the Holy Spirit rests upon them in accordance with their deeds!

Judaism. Midrash, Seder Eliyyahu Rabbah 10

Anything evil refrain from doing; all good deeds do! So will you be released forever from the influence of evil stars, and always be encompassed by good guardian angels.

Taoism. Tract of the Quiet Way

He who carries out one good deed acquires for himself one advocate in his own behalf, and he who commits one transgression acquires one accuser against himself. Repentance and good works are like a shield against calamity.

Judaism. Mishnah, Abot 4.13

When the earth is shaken with her earthquake And the earth yields up her burdens, And man says, "What ails her?" That day she will relate her chronicles Because your Lord inspires her. That day mankind will issue forth in scattered groups to be shown their deeds. And whoever has done good, an atom's weight will see it then, And whoever has done ill, an atom's weight will see it then.

Islam. Qur'an 99

Realization of Truth is higher than all else; Higher still is truthful living.

Sikhism. Adi Granth, Sri Ashtpadi, M.1, p. 62

What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works? Can his faith save him? If a brother or sister is ill clad and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and filled" without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit? So faith by itself, without works, is dead.

But someone will say, "You have faith and I have works." Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe--and shudder. Do you want to be shown, you shallow man, that faith apart from works is barren? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by works, and the scripture was fulfilled which says, "Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness"; and he was called the friend of God. You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.... For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so faith apart from works is dead.

Christianity. James 2.14-26

Tract of the Quiet Way: Cf. Treatise on Response and Retribution 1-2, p. 173; 5, p. 781; Abot 4.13, pp. 293f. James 2.14-26: This argument for good deeds to demonstrate faith relies on the example of Abraham, for it comes as a counterpoint to Galatians 3.1-11, p. 656. Paul's argument in Galatians, that man is saved through faith and not by deeds according to the law, had been misinterpreted by some Christians as advocating antinomianism, the license to do most anything as long as it is not harmful, under the cover of faith. James corrects this misconception by asserting that faith, if it is true, will be substantiated and confirmed by good works.

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