It has been quite a journey the past few days. We started with a cold bucket of truth about our state in this sinful world:
“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body[a]and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.”
And then came the beautiful rescue:
“But[c] God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”
How do we respond to something like this? Paul explains that in the next verses, Ephesians 2:8-10:
“8 For by grace you have been saved through faith.”
God gave us a gift of grace, through our response of faith. He provided the plane, we have to climb in. That is the only way to be saved from the approaching wall of fire.
“And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,”
This is a debt ceiling….like this, no matter how much we work to do to try to dig our way out of debt, we just keep borrowing more to pay it off. Sin has a way of snowballing. Only God can forgive the debt. Jesus told a story about the servants forgiven debt. The one who was forgiven more loved the master more (Luke 7:36-50). In the same way God forgives us, our response should be to forgive (Mt. 18:21-35).
“9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
We cannot pray our way to heaven. No matter how often we go to church, perform rituals of good deeds, or improve habits of holy living, we cannot budge our sin-debt. It is forgiven by God’s grace, wiped clean on His dime. Period. And obedience is a heartfelt response of gratitude. Those who believe in God make themselves His servants rather than slaves of sin, but only because He ransomed them in the first place.
” 10 For we are his workmanship,”
God is a master artisan, and we are His show pieces! He designs, smooths, finishes, works through the flaws to create a better piece.
“created in Christ Jesus for good works,”
Because of what Jesus did for us, we have the ability to do good works. Before salvation, works may look good, but they are done in the midst of a life of sin and contaminated, like a clock clogged with dirt. Christ’s work cleaned us so we can fulfill what we were made to do.
“which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
How early did He think of you? When did He think to make me like me? What strands of life is He weaving together, planning how each person will complete the whole? How can we work with Him to get to be a part of it?
We flatter ourselves sometimes that we could mess up God’s plan. We are not so important as all that. Rather, we are able to collaborate with Him, if we choose, and enjoy watching Him move in the world.
God, please help me to work with You, bring You glory by pointing out what You do for me, and keep pointing out that it is You, not me, who is bringing good out of my life. Amen.