What Are Good Works?

Ephesians 6Read Text

I have spent a lot of time thinking through, praying through and writing about these few verses and what they mean for men, specifically how we love and lead our families. But I want to look at them from a different angle. Same Text. Same meaning. Different aspect & application. That’s one reason I love God’s Word. It’s like a well cut diamond. We can pick it up and turn it around in our hand and gaze at it through our magnifying glass from all the different angles, seeing different parts of the beautiful stone. Same diamond. It doesn’t change, only our perspective does. I just wanted to clarify that I don’t believe that a Text has multiple meanings to multiple people or that it means this to me one time and that to me at another time.

In the last post we covered the context for these verses, what the Spirit-filled, submissive life looks like when we walk in love. But I want to zoom out just a bit. Lets take our focus from chapters 4 – 6 back out to chapter 2. I think that the commands found in chapters 4 – 6 can be faithfully placed in the broader context of what we see in Eph 2:10.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Ephesians 2:10

We have been made alive by the power of the Holy Spirit, because of the grace of God, through the gospel of Jesus Christ. Not because of our works or anything good in us. Yet, we were created and saved to do the good works God prepared for us.

Unfortunately we live in a time in church history where a harmful lie has crept in and made the church weak and anemic. It’s so harmful because it at first glance it looks and sounds so biblical and pious, but in the end it will only bring about either pride or despair. I’m talking about this idea that God has created you with a specific purpose or destiny. And it is up to you to find out what that is and pursue that with all your heart. “Follow you God-dream!” Who is the focus of this doctrine? You. Me. Not Jesus!

For the first 12 years or so of my Christian life this is what I was taught. So I prayed and fasted and begged God to show me my purpose. I was never satisfied or comfortable, always wondering if I was in the “perfect will of God” or if I was merely settling for His “permissive will”. It was anxiety-ridden torture. I was continually forced into situations of leadership that I was not prepared, gifted, or called to.

I can’t tell you the freedom and relief I felt when I began to understand that I was created for “good workS“, plural. Not one work. Not one specific purpose. Not a vision or dream-destiny thingy (thanks Chris!). I began to understand and discover the Doctrine of Vocation, and see Texts like Eph. 5:1-6:9 the way God intended them.

These are the good works (well, some of them) we are called to – all of us. We are all to love and encourage one another, walk in the light & truth, wives respecting and submitting to husbands, husbands loving, nurturing, and sacrificing for your wife, children honoring and obeying parents, employees respect bosses and work hard, employers respecting and faithfully managing employees. All as unto the Lord… as worship.

God never tells us in His Word that we are to “find our purpose”. Does He have good plans for us? Sure! Does He share/reveal all of those plans? Nope. Our calling (job), literally “vocation” (notice the root “voc“), is to be faithful to what He has revealed to us. Then we trust that everything He brings or allows is done for our good (Rom. 8:28). And what is this good? Keep reading. The very next verse (Rom. 8:29) tells us that the good God is working in our life is to conform us to the image of His Son.

So if you really want to know God’s will for your life, look no further than His Word. Paul, writing to believers, says “For this is the will of God, your sanctification…” (1 Thes. 4:3). We are called and created to do good works toward our neighbors, as unto the Lord, becoming more and more like Christ, for the glory of God. It will take the rest of our earthly lives to continue growing in obedience to His revealed will for us. No need for us to pick up such a heavy burden that He hasn’t even called us to carry!

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