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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Who's Doing The Work Around Here?

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
We've been studying the first few chapters of Ephesians in Wednesday night Bible study, and last week we were talking about this verse. The verses before say that we are saved by faith in God, not by our "works" (doing the right things), but then this verse turns around and talks about us doing good works. Isn't that strange? So should we do good works, or not?

George's Dance Class
When I read the verse, two things came to mind. One of the things is the stereotypical dancing class you used to see on old TV shows, where the instructor lays down pictures of footprints on the floor so that the students can be sure to put their feet in the proper places to do the appropriate dance moves. So in a class like this, is it the student's dance, or the teacher's? Well, maybe a little of both, but the student is not yet capable of making the dance happen on his own. The student is doing the moves, but the teacher is the one who laid out the dance.

The other thing that I thought of when I read this verse is Lowe's Build And Grow. If you don't have children, it's likely you haven't heard of Lowe's Build And Grow. Basically, you walk into a Lowe's hardware store with your child on specific Saturdays at the right time, they hand you a little kit to make a wooden toy of some kind, and your child gets to make the toy. The kits usually are made up of pre-cut pieces of wood, a dozen or so nails, and a sheet of stickers to spruce things up. Lowe's also gives each child an apron (just like the ones the grown-ups wear at Lowe's!) a pair of safety glasses, and a little hammer (you have to give back the hammer when you're done). My son who is now twelve used to go to them all the time, and now my daughter who is five has started going to them. They're popular events, because the kids have a great time, and they get to go home with a free toy!

When my little girl goes to the event, I have to open the package, lay out the parts, help her look over the instructions, line up the pieces, and hold the nails while she hammers (this can be quite dangerous, but during my son's run I learned to be an expert at keeping my fingers clear!) Usually I even start the nails for her, and often I do the final whack or two, too. So who's building the toy? Is it her, or is it me? Well, I let her do as much of the project as she can - and hopefully, as happened with my son, she will eventually be doing the projects completely on her own, with no help at all from me. For now, though, most of the work is done by Yours Truly.
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
Curiouser and Curiouser!
When we are doing God's good works, and doing them by the prompting of the Holy Spirit, we are doing a job God has lined out for us. Like I do for my daughter, he has provided all of the things we need to successfully complete the project, laid them out, given us the instructions, and maybe even started a nail or two. Like a dance instructor, He has laid out the steps for us to walk in. We are both the workmen, and the project. In the end, as it turns out, the job was actually being done by God all along. We may be doing the dance or building the project, but really, the work is done by God, and the glory goes to Him. The greatest part is that we're the ones who get to go home with something for free! "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV)

How do you know what "good works" God wants you to do? Do you pray and then sit and listen until you hear something? Do you ask a pastor or other trusted Christian? Do you set your Bible up on its edge and let it fall open to a Scripture that tells you what to do? Join the discussion by clicking the Comments link below!

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