For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Ephesians 2:8-10, NIV*
Good works aren’t the cause of salvation, they’re the effect of it. Christians know that, although sometimes we catch ourselves trying to “earn” our way.
What strikes me about this passage today is the notion that God has prepared the good works for us. They’ll flow out of our obedience to Him; we don’t have to go hunting them. After all, if we initiated our own good works, that might be grounds for boasting.
The good works, like everything else, are not about us. They’re about God, “to show the incomparable riches of His grace, expressed in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus.” (Eph. 2:7b, NIV)
They’re not all big things, or dramatic. Remember what Jesus said about giving a cup of cold water in His name. A lot of them will be opportunities in our daily routines.
For me, those good works include preparing nutritious meals for my family and keeping the laundry up to date. They include my daily interactions with those around me. As I learn to ask God, “What did you give me to give today?” I’ll fit better into His plans.
For my friends who were on a short-term mission trip to Haiti when the earthquake struck, the good works weren’t what they expected when they signed up! But God has used them in many ways to provide support and comfort and to show His love.
Precious Father, it amazes me that You would love us like this—and save us when we were helpless and very unlovely. Thank You it’s all a gift from You, and not something we have to earn. Thank You for giving us a part to play in Your work, and Father today please help each of us to recognize what You’ve given us to give—and to whom. Help us serve in Your strength, because it’s about You. In Jesus’ name, amen.
I think an appropriate song this week is “Oh, Master, Let Me Walk with Thee.” If you have time (it’s over 8 minutes long), there’s a beautiful, orchestral version here. Otherwise, here’s the 2-minute version nicely rendered by a choir: