Grace Meditation #5
Grace Based “Good Works.” Serving others by Grace
11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce
ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the
present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and
Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for
himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.
This is one of my favorite “grace” passages! It is chalked full of who we are/Whose we are because of grace-the indicatives of grace. It is God’s grace that called us into relationship with Himself. We are “saved,” we have and are renouncing ungodliness and worldly passions, and are being trained to live godly, self-controlled lives. He has redeemed us from all lawlessness, we are purified as His treasured possession. But notice a result clause follows right
on the heels of these indicatives-“who are zealous for good works.” This is an indicative with an imperative embedded in it. We are and are becoming more and more people who are zealous
for good works. God has prepared in advance good works for us to accomplish to bring glory to His name. (Ephesians 2:10) And these good works are a result of His ongoing outpouring of His
grace on our lives.
“Good works”, in the life of a follower of Christ, are ways in which we serve one another in love. They are not just our abstaining from “bad works,” or things contrary to the word of God, nor are they simply our acts of worship or the things we do in and around our church facility. A lot of folks have the concept that showing up at church and doing churchy things (setting up chairs, singing on worship team, running sound….) are the primary ways in which we do “good works”
and “serve God.” That is a “religious” concept of loving service. Not that those things aren’t good works, but Biblical injunctions to good works are more tangible directed towards others’
I John 3:16-18
16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for
the brothers. 17 But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his
heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love in word
or talk but in deed and in truth.
Talk is cheap. It is easy to say and sing about how much we love Jesus and His people but putting our money where our mouth is takes grace. His grace propels us and empowers us to serve one another and the world around us with sacrificial love. When we are astonished and amazed by God’s gifts of grace towards us, we are motivated by humility and gratitude to give to others. There are real needs in our body and in our community. There are spiritual needs, psychological and emotional needs, physical needs, financial needs, health needs….and grace will not allow us to turn a blind eye towards such needs.
As we focus on Jesus’ pierced hands and feet for us, we are motivated and empowered to become His hands and feet to others-to
intentionally find out what needs people really have and to meet them in real and tangible ways. A hungry person might need a Bible, but they might need food and help with their electric bill first. And our meeting of those real physical needs might be the very thing the Holy
Spirit uses to spark an interest in them for the Word of God and His offer of salvation.
Jesus met real needs. He didn’t neglect “temporal needs” using “eternal needs” as an excuse. He fed, the hungry, healed the sick, provided for the poor-met their real-life physical needs, AND
presented them with God’s offer of grace for eternity.
If we offer people physical help and ignore their real spiritual needs we are not loving well, and vice-versa. But the grace of the gospel guides our works of service toward whole image bearers of God. Human beings are created in the image of God, soul, mind, and body.
He cares about every aspect of our lives-and so should we.
James sums it up well in his letter:
27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows
in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
So, our true worship of the Living God involves intentionally meeting real needs of even the neediest among us. And grace is the foundation and basis of such service of true “good works.”
We love and serve others, not to “save them,” or make projects out of them but to try to extend to them the same grace we ourselves have received. We love and serve others not to earn God’s grace and favor, but because we have received it in abundance, and we long for
others to share in it with us! That is serving by grace, led by the Spirit, self-sacrificial-not out of religious duty or even ordinary or natural “good-will,” or philanthropy, but out of hearts transformed by grace!