Good works just waiting to be done

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)

We have already looked at how we and others are God’s workmanship and now we will look at the good works He has prepared for us to do. So, what are those good works that we are created for? The first thing to look at is the question of quality or quantity. Although the plural word “works” speaks of a certain quantity, the more important descriptor here is “good” which speaks of quality.

Quality Works

What kind of quality are we looking at here? While we might throw around relative adjectives like good, great, excellent and fantastic, God is different with His use of adjectives. For example, when He was called “good teacher”, Jesus bluntly responded, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.” (Luke 18:19) When God finished His creation project He saw that it was good (Genesis 1:25) and very good (Genesis 1:31). Therefore, it is clear that the works we are created for are to be of the very highest quality and not just good on the human scale of reckoning. In fact, we may as well admit that it is humanly impossible to accomplish good works according to the God’s standards!

What are His standards? How are we to know if our works qualify? When speaking of false teachers, Jesus said, “you shall know them by their fruit”. I often see Christians examining fruit by ignoring what God told Samuel, “man looks at the outward appearance but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). In fact, the quality of our works can be easily evaluated by looking at the definition of fruit in the Bible. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). 

When speaking of true believers, Jesus tells us, “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit for apart from Me you can do nothing (John 15:5). In this we find the key to accomplishing good works – apart from Him we can do nothing but abiding in Him, relying on Him, being strengthened and filled through Him and in fellowship with Him we can do the amazing feat of producing good works.

God’s Works

As we look further in Ephesians 2:10, we also see that our good works have been prepared beforehand by God. When I was a young Christian, I was a member in a very active college fellowship. I remember long periods of outreach where I would be involved 5 or 6 evenings per week in coffeehouses, street preaching, showing the Jesus film, serving refreshments to students during study times and much more. Years later, looking back on this time, I realize that we were trying one idea after another to bring people to Christ, and God was just watching us – there was no outward result and no supernatural leading but only human activism.

So is the outward result the key to knowing if our ministry has been prepared in advance? I was involved a few years ago in an outreach to street people, drug addicts and alcoholics. Although we labored for 11 years in this ministry, to our knowledge, there were no conversions. Our group continually asked God for His guidance and help, asking also for miracles of conversion or at least for new people in our group that could do the job better. God never answered those prayers for outward results. Instead, He gave us perseverance, He gave us a heart of love for the unlovable, He gave us compassion and He gave us signs to show us that He was with us.

We never saw any outward results of conversions but we often heard the testimony from those we ministered to exclaiming how different we were from “normal” people. We could only answer that what they were seeing was the love of God poured out in our hearts for them.

So, the second key to knowing if the works that we do are His good works is knowing that when God prepares a work beforehand, He calls, He equips and He motivates His children to produce works that glorify His name through the quality of their works (and not through outward appearances or only the quantity).

Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:16)

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