To each of the seven churches in Revelation Jesus says, "I know your works." To those he corrects he says they must repent and do the works they did at the first. The sign of their repentance is see in their works.
Verses like these used to make me feel like I have to try harder. Since I'm judged by my works it must be up to me to make sure I'm doing the works I'm supposed to be doing. And if I'm doing the wrong works I need to "just stop it!" and get my butt in gear to do the right things I should be doing. So living for Jesus was a lot of Shoulds I put on my shoulders and carried around.
But the Spirit has been working to get my mind right--"and I mean right" (insert southern accent). My friend, Sheri, tells people, "Don't should on yourself." My good intentions and attempts at good works never turn out so well. It's only by resting in the Spirit that I can produce any kind of good fruit.
Jesus said, "Be connected to me like a grape branch is connected to the vine." The purpose of our connection is to make fruit. Now the branch doesn't fret and strain to make fruit. As long as it's connected to the vine the fruit just comes. In fact, thinking that a vine can make fruit happen by itself is silly.
So when I read stuff about "working the works of righteousness" I remind myself that I'm not the one who produces righteousness in my life. My righteousness comes from Jesus and flows to me as I keep in step with the Holy Spirit. My struggle isn't to do good works but rather to press in to Him and keep my connection strong. I pull my life from Jesus and the fruit will come naturally. I don't have to strain and struggle to pop out a grape.