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
Just after a great statement of grace in Ephesians 2:8-9, Paul tells us that we were created for good works. It has amazed me how easily a verse like this is taken out of context and twisted to bring guilt and shame on the people of God. Ignoring both the point of the verse and the context of grace through faith, some teachers try to use this verse to motivate their people to greater service, telling them that the reason they were saved was for good works.
But let me share what the verse is really saying: We are called to walk in the works of Jesus. We can work through the verse step by step and see this. Yes, we are His worksmanship. We know that’s true. Any good in our lives is because of Him. He has reached in and has brought us to Himself and has changed us. We were, in fact, created as new creatures in Jesus. The life that flows in us today is His life. The old has truly passed away and we are new in Him.
Now we have to be careful. Whose worksmanship are we? Jesus’. Who has created us? Jesus. So who will be doing those good works? Jesus. In fact, that’s what the rest of the verse is saying. God prepared those good works “beforehand” so that we should walk in them. What does “beforehand” mean? Well, it’s hard to say from the context, but it is certain that the point is that these works were prepared before we became involved. In other words, they are not dependent on us. We don’t initiate them. We don’t do them, except indirectly. We don’t deserve credit for them, except what He chooses to share with us. The works and the glory are His.
If you have read this blog for long, you probably know that one of my least favorite poems is one that reads, “Christ has no hands but our hands to do His work today.” I have felt for several years that this is an unfortunate sentiment for people in the church to have. If the Lord is limited by the work of our hands, how does anything get done? If that’s true, then we are in real trouble. Of course, it isn’t true. He is able to accomplish abundantly more than we are able even to think. And we are grateful that it is so. Perhaps, in fact, the poem should say, “We have no hands but His hands to do His work today.”
You see the difference? He does His work! The good works for which you and I were created are His works and we have the amazing privilege of walking in them. What that means in practice is that we walk through our lives actively, perhaps even busily, and we don’t have to worry about results or success because the work is really His work. We get to participate, but we have none of the burden. Isn’t it interesting that Jesus said exactly that when He told us that His yoke was easy and His burden was light?
So, we walk in the works of Jesus our Lord who loves us and gave Himself for us!