Good (God) Works
As followers of Jesus, we are, among other things, salt and light — catalytic change agents in the world, but not of the world — seeking to embody love, grace and mercy in ways that expand God’s kingdom here on earth. Jesus directs us, “…let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Mt 5:16) Good works are an outflow of a life lived following/living Jesus.
Paul further explains this behavior of a Jesus follower in a passage I really love, “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) According to Paul, we are not meant for just any good works; God has earmarked certain, specific good works for each of us, works that we, as God’s workmanship, are uniquely wired and equipped to participate with God in their doing.
Yet we live in a world where there is no end of good things to do. We are constantly bombarded with pleas for help. So, how can you know which works God has prepared just for you?
Scripture offers a few general commands for loving others in deed and truth: preaching good news to the poor, proclaiming liberty to the captives, giving sight to the blind (Lk 4:18); feeding the hungry, visiting the prisoner, clothing the naked or disenfranchised (Mt 25: 37-40); but again we are left still searching for those specific good works for which God has uniquely prepared for each of us.
I don’t think God means for us to be paralyzed into inaction by this. Instead, we are invited to participate in a meaningful effort to discern our paths forward. I suggest you start with the two questions below:
1) Which of your “good works” are currently causing people to glorify your father in heaven?
2) Which good works has God prepared, gifted you for, as God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus, to invest your time and talents?
Spend time before God sitting with these questions, searching your heart for the current realities that cause you pain, ignite your hunger and thirst for justice, birth compassion. For whom or what are you willing to suffer persecution, take a stand, be a peacemaker? Your answers to these questions may well provide some direction and insight regarding your God ordained good works.
Please understand this inner examination is not about condemnation for lack of action or a perceived lack of focus. These questions can help you discover your overarching life purpose (How will I spend the rest of my life?), as well as a daily use of your time, talents and interactions (What are the good works God has for me today?). Each of these points us toward Jesus and invokes the Spirit’s leading. Dependency on and connection with Jesus, “living Jesus,” assures us that our gifts (talents and abilities) will meet the world needs in ways that point people to God and the fulness of life God offers in and through Jesus.
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