What are good works?
“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 (ESV)
What are good works? Stop and think about that for a second. Many of us would say things like telling the truth, helping others and generally being a good person. We usually look at those around us and see what they are doing that we think is good and copy it. So if our neighbor helps an elderly woman mow her lawn, we see that as good and seek to find ways that we can emulate it. However, we usually fall short. This is not because these things are bad, but because we are emulating the wrong person. Let’s look at Christ. He came and lived a sinless life. What did He do while He was here? He healed a bunch of people, taught good things and was generally awesome, right? Wrong. Christ did these things, but they were simply the result of who Christ was and what He was being: sacrificial. Christ sacrificed Himself day in and day out. Everything He did was in an attitude of giving Himself to the world. Ultimately, this led Him to give His life for us.
This is where this verse leads. Jesus Christ created good works by sacrificing Himself to us and we are to walk in His footsteps. Our lives shouldn’t be just going around doing what we think is good. Most of the time, it’s because we want something out of it. Until it is done out of a desire to sacrifice yourself for that person, it is not the good work to which Christ calls us. Christ is the standard of good works. Anything we do must be done out of his example of selflessness. This is contrast to our nature that desires something back when we do good works. The works that Christ calls us to are the works which God prepared beforehand. This can be a confusing statement, but what is simply means is that this is the standard. God prepared a set of standards of good works for us to walk. This standard is shown by Christ on the earth and given to us by the Holy Spirit. Because the Holy Spirit now lives in us, most of this should come naturally. It should be the overflow of God’s goodness in our lives. However, we must still strive to live our lives in line with God’s standard.
Don’t be discouraged this week as you seek to do good in your life. Pray for strength from God and look to Him for your righteousness and He will work through you.