For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Eph. 2:10)
Good works? What are those exactly? The truth is I could come up with a list of things that would seem “good” to me. They would probably include things that I enjoy doing and have time to fit into my schedule. Volunteering a few hours for a favorite charity or cause? Helping my elderly neighbor? Giving some money to my church or favorite ministry? These are all good things, right? But is that what Paul is talking about or do we need to approach this topic from a different perspective?
Jesus’s words in John 5:30 give us a clear example to follow: “I can do nothing on my own… …I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.” If we really allow ourselves to digest what Jesus is saying here it will fly in the face of our self-directed good works. Jesus, God incarnate, says He does nothing on his own. Stunning. Surely Jesus had enough God-given intelligence and faculty to make decisions on what good works he should participate in while He walked this earth?
But Jesus models to us humility and dependence upon God. How challenging this is for our hearts to comprehend when we are inundated with the independent, self-seeking messages of our culture that tell us to “Chase your dreams.” Sadly, this is even the message often being taught in the Church. “Follow your heart and your passions and take Jesus along for the ride.” Sorry folks, but I don’t think that is what Jesus had in mind when he said, “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matt. 16:25). I know it might seem like I am beating a dead horse with this message but it is so foundational to what Jesus taught while on this earth.
But here is the really amazing news! When we humbly submit to Jesus and agree to follow Him wherever He leads and do whatever he asks us to do we get the incredible privilege of joining Him in His good works. We must be willing to humbly follow Him throughout our days, constantly asking for His leading and guidance. We must lay aside our dreams and ask Him for eyes to see His dreams, the work He is doing to establish His kingdom here on earth. Jesus told us to pray for God’s kingdom to come, for His will to be done.
And can I be honest with you, sometimes His work is messy and dirty and not exactly what I would choose. It will at times be uncomfortable and stretching. It may seem odd, even to your Christian friends. But, as you trust Him and follow in obedience the still small voice of the Spirit, you will watch God move in incredible ways. Jesus says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.” (John 14:12). Can you imagine? God has already gone ahead of you, preparing the role and work He has for you in ushering in His kingdom.
And when you feel overwhelmed and inadequate to the tasks and the work He is calling you to, remember this amazing promise from 2 Corinthians 9:8: “And God is able to make all grace abound to you,so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.”
Written by: Angie Thomas