“…we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions- it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, exposed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith- and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:3-10
These verses are so God-centered instead of me-centered. God has done an incredible work in me, and in all believers! We were by nature objects of wrath, dead in transgressions, but because of God’s great love and mercy, he made us alive through the work of Christ. And why has he done this? In order that he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, exposed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus!
This reminds me of another section of verses that I love, 1 Timothy 1:14-16:
“The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners- of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.”
The very act of God pouring out grace, faith, and love and saving sinners displays God’s unlimited patience! God’s work in us (that took place all because of God and his character, his will, and his power) is what ultimately glorifies him.
Sometimes I get caught up in wanting to do good things, wondering what I should do to glorify the Lord. But that mentality, even though it is based in a gratefulness that desires to love, serve, and worship the Lord, is really very me-centered. What can I do to glorify the Lord? What are those good works I was supposedly created for? And why don’t I feel like I know exactly what they are? I want to wake up in the morning with a check-list of good things to do to glorify the Lord today. But, no check list ever arrives and each day I feel that I missed out on doing those good works, whatever they are. Inevitably I become frustrated and doubtful.
I want to switch to this God-centered, Christ-centered, Holy Spirit-centered mindset of Ephesians 2 and 1 Timothy 1. I want to focus on the incredible work God has done in my heart through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I want to continuously praise him for this and recognize that his bringing me from death to life is what most displays his unending grace, mercy, love, and patience. And indeed he is displaying these things in me to the world every second of every day, because this is who I am.
[Disclaimer: The Bible is clear that, yes, we should do good works, and when we understand the truth of the Gospel and what the Lord has done for us we will desire to obey him and our life will produce the fruit of good works. I just want to recognize that God is actually the one who brings most glory to himself in my life and in me. And so I can rest in the fact that my very identity brings him glory and shows his perfect character and unique generosity. And I’ll let my good works flow as they come, not worrying about whether I’m doing enough of them to really make his name famous in the world around me.]