Humility and our 'Good Works'
A beautiful young woman named Bountraby was missing one eye. In her culture, this made her ineligible for marriage. Glenn inserted several prosthetic eyes until he found one that fit. A nurse handed Bountraby a small, round, pink mirror to take a look. She stared in disbelief! Then a HUGE smile came across her face with tears of joy! You see, God’s love literally transforms lives. And He allows us the privilege of partnering with Him in these amazing acts of mercy!
Our culture has a way of elevating our job or achievements. When you meet someone new, their first question is often, ‘What do you do?’ If we are not careful, what we ‘do’ comes to shape ‘who we are.’ In our jobs people praise us when we accomplish things. Our value can feel linked to our actions, rather than who God says we are. In the passage from Ephesians 2 yesterday, we learned we are God’s workmanship—He created us and prepared good works for us to do.
In today’s passage, we learn that we must lean on God to do these good works He prepared for us. Only then will our actions be fruitful. True fruitfulness comes from relying on God as we seek to do his will. We will see today as we look at John 15 that we cannot bear fruit apart from God—we must ‘remain in him’ if we are to see the fruit from our actions.
Relying on God’s wisdom and strength may seem natural in our areas of weakness, but we must also look to God for help in the areas where we are strong and gifted. In Luke 5, Simon (Peter) is an experienced expert fisherman who has been fishing all night without success. When Jesus speaks into his fishing (his area of great experience and expertise) “they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break” (v6).
When we try and carry out ‘good works’ without God’s help we can slip into feeling proud and become self-reliant. God calls us to join with Him, as a co-worker, to carry out the work He planned in advance for us to do. God wants to partner with us to see his purposes realised on earth. Indeed, we see in verse 5 of this passage that the disciple responded to Jesus’s words: “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” It was hard work to re-cast the nets, but they were willing to do so for Jesus. They worked as a team with God. Jesus had some words of wisdom and they did the work with the nets, using their skills as fishermen.
We are not saved by our works (or skills), but by God’s grace we can carry them out, as we remain in Him and rely on Him.
Call to action - Spend some time praying into your work or areas of service. Ask God to show you where you are relying on Him and where you are relying on your own strength and skills. Pray for the Holy Spirit to help you to ‘remain in Him’ to a greater extent today, knowing that fruitfulness comes from being a partner with God.