Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Made to do Good (Ephesians 2:10)

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10, NASB95)

Years ago on a visit to my parent’s I noticed that their whirligigs were falling apart in the weather (those things in the yard that spin their wings or propellers in the wind). So, I took some of them home with men and repaired them. In the process I decided that these were kind of neat, and I wanted to try my hand a making some. But rather than doing what someone else had already done, I decided to play with them and design my own. I also love birds, and I took my love for birds and the desire to make these whirligigs and bring them together. Now, I call it my therapy as I look to these birds, draw them out on paper, transfer the drawing to a hard surface for a pattern, go out into my garage and cut them out, round the edges, sand them, and prepare them for painting. It is here that they go from an idea to a shaped piece of wood. But there is still nothing really to distinguish what they are or what they will be useful for. It is not until I apply the paint that their identity is known and when I apply the wings that their purpose is prepared. Over the years I have continually added new ones and have tweaked them time after time to improve them. But my greatest joy has been being able to make them and put them into the hands of another to enjoy. It is here that they see them work, but rarely with any idea of what went into the process of bringing them there.

In verse 10 of Ephesians we read that we are God’s “workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works.” Think about it. We were created by God for good works. This in itself is an amazing thing that our God would have chosen us from before the foundation of the world apart from anything that we would ever do. He made us and He chose us. But He also did this with a result in mind that we would in turn return His affection in faithful service to Him in order to accomplish good works. Left to itself this truth could easily be taken to the point that we then, after having been saved by Christ, are released to go out and come up with what we can do in response. This could easily lead to our running around trying to show our thankfulness by again trying to gain His pleasure in our performance.

But the truth of the matter is very simple. We were not saved because He was pleased with us, and neither can we afterward improve on His choice. Sure, we were chosen before we were born and this includes not only our salvation but how we would serve afterward. This is what Paul goes on to say, we were “created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” Wow. God has a plan for my life. What an amazing realization. The things that He had laid out for me to do, just like my salvation, were laid out in advance. He picked the spiritual suit I am to wear and He laid it out for me such that it would fit. He made me for these things.

As I was thinking about this my mind was drawn to another passage of Scripture in 2 Timothy, where in the English Standard Version (ESV) we read, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16–17, ESV) God gives us what we need to be equipped for what He set apart for us to do, and backing up we see that a primary way of discovering His equipping and His direction is by spending time in His Word. He gave it to us. The Spirit moved in the hearts of men to write His Word so that we would have it, and then it was preserved so that we might not only learn it though teaching, but that we would be shown where we are off track, how to then get on track, and then to stay that way. God’s Word is given to direct our steps so that we might be trained in righteousness resulting in being equipped for His service.

It is from God’s Word that we learn that which is good and acceptable and perfect. In the last post I quoted Romans 12:1 in the context of works being our response to what God has done for us. Continuing in verse 2 we read, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2, NASB95) There was a way we used to do things and there is a way that the world does things. That way is founded in our own imaginings based upon our own understanding of things. Here we read that we are to stop thinking that way, and we are to have our minds transformed by the Spirit and the Word such that we think and act differently. In this we evidence God’s will in our lives so that we do that which He has declared good and acceptable and perfect. In Proverbs 3:5-6 we read that this is accomplished not by leaning on our own understanding, but by trusting in Him and looking to Him in all things. It is in doing this that we know He will set our path straight. This includes the little things and the big things. It includes those things which are seemingly easy for us to do and those which prove more challenging. It includes those things which line up with our desires and those in which we have to stop and purpose to realign our desires with those of God. It also includes those times when we have to wait for Him to show the way and those situations which we so desperately want to avoid.

There are so many opportunities before us every day, and God has given us the great privilege of being His ambassadors of grace and truth in a world where evil and uncertainty are so prevalent. What He calls us to do is to trust Him in those things He has set before us as we seek His will and follow His lead in doing that which brings glory to His name.

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