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
I was asked recently in a Bible study to list all the religious and “good works” activities I do. This included serving my family and friends. After making the list we were then to write who we do those activities for – other people, ourselves, or God. I have to admit that my list was mostly things I do for myself. Including said Bible study.
How often do we go to church to “fill ourselves up?” When we join a small group or Bible study is it in service to God or to help us learn more about ourselves? Or worse still, out of some obligation? When we clean our floors is it to please our spouses? When we volunteer to help in the church childcare, usher, fill bags for the needy, is it to elevate ourselves or check off our boxes?
I recently had a bit of a perspective shift about why I should devote myself to my Bible studies. In the past, I’ve taken the point of view that they help me either “fix myself” or learn more about God. But what if instead we view our study time as just the first, necessary step to then fulfilling our obligations to God? To be prepared for Him to use us in ways He has planned? The last step isn’t to die daily to sin. Our last step is to be His implements, His well trained workers. Like students at medical school. They take classes to become medical doctors. Students don’t stop at just the classes. They have a goal — to cure people.
Today I praise God for His expectations of us. He expects us to learn how to lean on Him and trust Him. He expects us to clean up our hearts and minds for Him. But all that is in anticipation of Him sending us out to fulfill His plans.
What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? James 2:14
I’ve met Christians who, though they love the Lord and have worked on cleaning up their own house, have stopped at their own doorstep. They are satisfied with not stepping forward and saying, “You’ve worked a good work in me and I’m ready for what you need of me.”
It’s not enough for us to stop being prideful. To stop seeking revenge. To stop worrying. To stop loving money. We need to ask God, “What do you want me to do with this great thing you have done?”
And now that I’m thinking differently about God’s expectations, I’m looking at my time with God in a new light. When I go to church, I want to learn more about Him and worship Him. I want to actively thank God for allowing me to serve my family and friends in His name. And I’m asking, ”what in this text or in this Bible study question can prepare me to serve Him?” I don’t want to stop being a part of God’s plan at the end of the book. I want to help Him write the next chapter of something new.