“We are His craftsmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” -Ephesians 2:10
Do you produce good works to the praise of God? Look at the world’s applause. From charity to words the world finds profound, applause goes to people, community organizations, and movements. People form non-profit organizations for causes and good works which are championed to fix some wrong in the world and driven by applause.
The church of Jesus Christ is radically different. First, notice Christians are God’s craftsmanship rather than works of our own creation or identity. We were dead in our trespasses against God, producing evil works. God made us alive together in Christ Jesus. God’s hands gathered the church for His eternal purpose as opposed to someone organizing a group for earthly purposes.
The Christian individually and the church as a whole are God’s craftsmanship created in Christ Jesus. The power of our repentance from evil and toward God is found being in Christ Jesus. Paul told the Roman church that Christians are more than conquerors of tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, and sword by being in Christ bonded in God’s love for us which nothing can separate us from (Romans 8:31-39). This is God’s grace of salvation in Christ Jesus, a free gift of God received by faith alone (Ephesians 2:8-9).
What did God create us in Christ Jesus for? Good works. The world is driven by the applause of the world. The church is driven by the joy of God. “The joy of the Lord is our strength” (Nehemiah 8:10). By God creating us into new creatures by His craftsmanship, we are in Christ and His complete joy is in us (John15:11). We produce the fruit of the Spirit of joy in the face of sadness and suffering!
Not FROM works, but FOR works. These are the works of God, creating new creations from old, bringing the dead into newness of life in Christ Jesus, in His death, burial, and resurrection. The church performs good works of love, serving our neighbors in our newly transformed minds, hearts, and bodies. Luther famously said, “God does not need our good works, but our neighbor does.”
What kind of works? Jesus said at the final judgment when he returns, he will reward people for feeding him when he was hungry, giving him drink when he was thirsty, clothing him when he was naked, visiting him when he was in prison, welcoming him when he was a stranger. The righteous will ask when we saw Jesus in these ways? Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me” (Matthew 25:40).
The world wants to produce these fruits to some extent, but only for applause that you are a good person, or your non-profit organization is a good group of people. The church produces good works in Christ Jesus for the eternal praise of God for we are His craftsmanship.
Do not produce fruit in hopes of applause that you are a good person. Produce the works for you created by God beforehand that you may walk in them. To the praise of God alone whom you serve in your treatment of the church and your neighbor.
Heavenly Father, all our minds, hearts, and labors are in Your mighty hands. Mold us by Your excellent craftsmanship into good works. Forgive us where we have been like the priest who passed the beaten man and craft us into the Good Samaritan. Produce good works of joy in the face of suffering and selfless service in this perishing, self-serving, boastful world to the praise of Your glorious name. In Jesus we pray for such mercies. Amen.