August 13, 2020 • Life for Leaders
Scripture – Ephesians 2:8-10 (NIV)
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Ephesians 2:10 teaches us to see our whole life as an interconnected series of good works offered to God in response to his grace. We walk in the good works God has planned for us in our offices and classrooms, in our studios and kitchens, when we’re at work and at home, at church and in our neighborhood. As we grow in our faith, we will learn to do everything under the authority of Christ and for his purposes.
According to Ephesians 2:10, you have been “created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for [you] to do.” This raises an obvious question: What are your good works?
Many of us might be inclined to answer this question by pointing to specific things Christians tend to do as an expression of our faith. Good works would include: attending worship services, praying regularly, studying Scripture, giving money generously, joining a small group, going on mission trips, caring for the poor, working for justice for the oppressed, protesting against racism, loving our neighbors, and so forth. These are surely among the good works God has prepared for us. We rightly engage in these activities as people who have been transformed by God’s grace through Christ.
But, if we think of good works only in these terms, we miss just how much God’s plan for our good works is broader and deeper. Our translation explains that we are created for good works, “which God prepared in advance for us to do.” The Greek original reads more literally, “which God prepared in advance, so that we might walk in them.” The language of walking was used by teachers in the time of Paul in the way we might talk of living a certain lifestyle. In other words, the good works of verse 10 are not only religious activities scattered throughout an otherwise ordinary, secular life. Rather, these good works encompass the whole of our lives.
Ephesians 2:10 is similar to other passages in the Pauline letters that envision all of life as lived through and for God. Romans 12:1, for example, says, “I urge you . . . to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God.” This offering takes place, not in identified temples, but in everyday life. Similarly, Colossians 3:17 proclaims, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus.”
Therefore, though it’s certainly right for you to invest yourself in the life of your church and to engage in works of justice for the sake of the poor and the oppressed, Ephesians 2:10 would encourage you to see your whole life as an interconnected series of good works offered to God. This means that your good works can include that which you do at your office, in the classroom, on the soccer field, in your neighborhood, and in your community associations. If you’re a boss, part of your good works involve the way you manage your employees, making sure that God’s justice is present in your workplace. If you’re a parent, your good works include making dinner for your children as well as praying with them as you tuck them into bed. The more we grow in our faith, the more we will see ourselves as God’s masterpieces, and therefore the more we will do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, by his strength, under his authority, and for his purposes.
Do you tend to think of your whole life as an offering of good works to God? Or do you tend to think of your good works mainly as activities that are obviously religious?
How would your life be different if you began to see your whole life as an offering to God?
As you do your work today, be conscious of doing whatever you do for God’s purposes and glory. Work for God!
Gracious God, I find the perspective of this passage exciting, compelling, and counter-intuitive. My culture and even much of my Christian experience have taught me to divide my life into the “stuff for you” and “all the other stuff.” I am learning to think more truly and inclusively, to see my whole life as an offering to you.
Help me, Lord, to walk in the good works you have in store for me. Help me to be open to all that you would have me do. Teach me to see my whole life as you see it. By your Spirit, may I come to see every moment of every day as an occasion to do good works – including good work – for you. Amen.
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Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Commentary on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Do Good Work (1 Corinthians 3:10–17)
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.