Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that … they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation…. Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, … that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. (1 Peter 2:12, 13, 15 ESV)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Peter is calling all sojourners and exiles (i.e. Christians) to obedience: abstain, keep your conduct honorable, be subject, honor, love, fear, etc. Such attitudes and behaviors won’t save you, of course. Indeed, you are already saved. Jesus obeyed the Law in your place. He suffered the penalty for your sins. He freely called you into His Church. He freely bestowed upon you a new identity and everlasting life.
That being said, there are still good reasons to do good works. Peter gives us a few good reasons. First, if the unbelievers see you perform unexpected, unconditional good works, then they might glorify God on the Last Day. In other words, they might be moved by your love, they might ask about why you love, and after hearing about our Lord who loved us, they might believe. That’s a great reason to do good works.
Second, if you let your sinful nature off the leash, then you give unbelievers an excuse to criticize and revile the Church, the Gospel, and even our Lord. Christians should restrain their sinful nature to silence such foolish and blasphemous speech. That’s a great reason to do good works.
Finally, we do good works for our neighbor, for the Lord’s sake. Jesus purchased us with His own blood. We are His slaves. He died precisely so that we don’t have to serve sin anymore. Jesus has great, unconditional, self-sacrificing love for us. This love moves us. Now we desire to show our gratitude and to imitate His love. That’s a great reason to do good works.
Sometimes people say that Lutherans have no reason to do good works. That’s not true. We have lots of good reasons to do good works, but thanks be to God our salvation is not one of them. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
Lord, let me win my foes With kindly words and actions, And let me find good friends For counsel and correction. Help me, as You have taught, To love both great and small And by Your Spirit’s might To live in peace with all. (O God, My Faithful God, LSB 696:4)