Sometimes I think I've said all I have to say on a subject, and then I realize that I didn't say all I wanted to. This is one of those times.
In my Bible study class on Sunday morning, we were reading from Ephesians 2:1-10. This is one of my favorite passages, but I'm weird. A lot of Christians I know read this passage and really set their focus on the verses that deal with grace and being alive in Christ. I get that. I really do. This whole passage is so amazing. All the verses are so important and tie together well. God inspired Paul to write them and they're incredible words of truth. But I'm weird, as I mentioned before. The verses that stand out to me are not the same ones that seem to stand out to everyone else.
My favorite verse from this passage is verse 10: "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." In verse 3 of this passage, Paul refers to his readers (the Ephesians, as well as all Christians) as formerly being "by nature OBJECTS of wrath." I like the contrast this plays with verse 10. We go from being objects of wrath to God's workmanships--other translations state we are "God's masterpieces." That's through God's grace. I love the way some translations word this whole passage. In the first few verses, Paul talks about how we were once dead in our sin and gratifying our own sinful desires--we were objects of wrath. Then in verse four comes the turning point: BUT GOD made us alive in Christ. I love those words. "BUT GOD." Those words are full of such hope and promise. Mmm. I get cold chills thinking about it. It really is only by His grace that we can be or do anything.
That brings me to my point. Maybe. I tend to ramble, haven't you noticed? I'll bet you have. AHEM.
In verse 9, Paul reemphasizes that it's only by grace that we are saved, alive, etc. He points out that it is NOT BY OUR WORKS so that we can't boast about it.
And then in the very next verse, verse 10 (see above), Paul states that God gave us work to do. Hold up. Didn't he JUST say in the previous verse that our works are basically meaningless in regards to our salvation? It's not a contradiction. It's a clarification.
Works don't save us. I could write brilliant novels and lovingly take care of children and mow lawns for the elderly and make gourmet meals for the homeless or do any number of things that would qualify as work. They wouldn't do a thing for me. The thing is, though, that God did make work. According to Eph. 2:10, he prepared work for us to do.
Work doesn't save us, but it glorifies Him. I don't *think* that I'm counting on all the work I do to save me, but I think every Christian from time to time finds him/herself in that trap of wanting to "do things for God." God doesn't need us to do things for Him. God doesn't need anything.
God desires us. He chooses us. He uses us because He is good, not because there's anything good in us. The work He's given you and me doesn't have anything to do with saving us. It's what He's given us to do to glorify Him and further His Kingdom.
As I said in the previous post, my failing is that I am lazy. I want to do the things that honor me and build my kingdom(like sit around and wait for people to post on my facebook wall) instead of the work that honors God and builds His Kingdom. Nothing we have belongs to us, and when we really start to understand that, I think that's when we really start honoring God with our time, talents, and money.
Thank you, Lord, for making me--for making me Your masterpiece. I thank you for reminding me that I have no right to boast--all I have is from You. I ask that You keep breathing your creativity into me that I can spread the breath of You into the work that I do. Thank you for grace. I'm ever always in need of it.