Our works do not merit for us such immense, eternal things, nor do they make us righteous, but they are necessary in every way because they have their own purposes.
First, they are the obedience required and commanded by God that we creatures owe to our creator. They are like a giving of thanks for the goodness of God. They are also sacrifices acceptable to God for the sake of the faithful person of Christ.
Second, through them our Heavenly Father is glorified in us.
Third, through good works our faith is trained and enhanced, so that it increases and grows.
Fourth, good works are a witness of our faith to neighbors, who are edified by them, inspired to do the same, and find help through them with whatever they need.
Fifth, I become certain of my calling through good works [2 Peter 1:10]. As I love my neighbors and benefit them, I see that my faith is not false and that I am a Christian.
Sixth, although they do not merit ineffable treasures like forgiveness of sins, justification, liberation from death and the devil (for only Christ Jesus does that), nevertheless on the basis of God's freely-given promise they do merit physical and spiritual rewards, both in this life and after this life. Not that God owes us anything, but because he promised out of his mercy and is trustworthy, he will therefore give us these things for the sake of his glorious name, as it is written in the seventeenth chapter of Jeremiah: "I the Lord test the mind and search the heart, to give to all according to their ways, according to the fruit of their doings." And in the sixteenth chapter of Matthew: "For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of the Father, and then he will repay everyone for what he has done." The same in Romans 2. Again Christ shows clearly enough in the twenty-fifth chapter of Matthew how pleasing to him are the good works which proceed from faith, because he says: "I was hungry and you gave me to...drink."
--Urbanus Rhegius, Confessor of Smalcald and Superintendent of Lüneburg, *Preaching the Reformation* pp. 49-51