Good Works for God's Glory
I decided to read the Bible in another language this year. I considered it a good learning tool while also trying to grow spiritually. Yet, the longer I continued the practice, the dryer I grew.
Leviticus is hard enough to grasp in English, but in another language, it is mind numbing. I took at least twice as long as usual to read my Bible, yet I got less out of it. The day I read about the priests examining the raw flesh of people’s sores, which was literally “living meat” in the other language, I realized I wasn't learning practical vocabulary.
My sister called me out and told me to read the Bible in English. She said if I was trying to boast that I could read the Bible in another language, I wasn’t winning any spiritual rewards. She was right. I switched to English the next day, and rejoiced at how much spiritual meat was in Leviticus when I understood the words.
Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (NKJV). My work of reading the Bible in another language wasn’t going to save me.
For that matter, neither were any of the things I’ve tried to do for God in the past like have perfect attendance at church, serve in the nursery and the welcoming committee, and lead Bible study all at the same time. While those things may look good to other people, God looks at my heart. My boasting doesn’t impress God when I boast in myself.
We should only boast in the Lord. He gave us the gift of salvation through the blood of His Son Jesus. We are saved by grace through faith in Christ. Our salvation cannot equal grace plus anything else. For those with legalistic tendencies like myself, that truth can seem maddening.
Yet, God’s grace sets us free. We are not saved by our good works, but released from sin to commit good works unto God’s glory.
Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (NKJV). God is not against good works. Instead, He created acts of kindness for us to perform before the foundation of the world. The difference is not the act itself, but the heart motivation behind what we do. Are we trying to make ourselves look good or to glorify God for all He has done?
God is not impressed by my self-promotion. My reading the Bible in another language was not one of those things preordained for me to complete, but something I wanted to do to feel special. May we all check our hearts to ensure we are working for God’s renown and not our own. Because in the end, only His glory lasts forever.
2/28/2022 01:32:59 am
Joanna, I love Ephesians. Paul so beautifully expresses who we are in Christ. The prayers he prays here show us what we have been given by grace and not our works.
3/5/2022 02:33:34 pm
So thankful that my salvation depends on the grace of God and not my own works!
2/28/2022 04:28:29 am
"God is not impressed by my self-promotion." Very good statement -my mom used to say stop being a people pleaser. Majority of the time the same people we want to impress have a negative view of you or don't regard you as important or value the relationship.
3/5/2022 02:35:03 pm
I definitely need to care more about what God thinks about me than other people. I remind myself of that often because only God values me the way I deserve. People can't help but let us down because they are flawed humans.
2/28/2022 05:53:21 am
I'm not sure whether my overcommitments were intentionally done to impress other people, but I've definitely fallen into the trap of doing more than God wanted me to at that point. I learned to adopt the mindset of "If I keep doing everything, I'm robbing someone else of the blessing of doing it." That advice helped me shift my perspective in what I think was a healthy way.
3/5/2022 02:36:02 pm
I've tried to focus on the areas that God has gifted me for my service so that other people can do the things that God has called them too. Great reminder.
2/28/2022 10:17:16 am
Amen Ms Joanna. We all have in the past, or will, fall into the "Busyness Trap." Some, like me in the past, think that if keep myself busy at church then it will distract me from the worldliness that is all around us. In reality, it weakens us, because we start to feel both overwhelmed and inefficient. Rather, and it's easier said than done (says the guy teaching Sunday School, helping with AWANA, leading a Life Group, and volunteering for various programs and missions on a regular basis), but when you finally understand where God is leading you to serve, and focus in that area, you'll be both more happy and more productive for the kingdom. So says the old guy who is still searching to see where God wants him to serve in the new church. :-) Praying you find your place where God wants you to serve my friend.
3/5/2022 02:36:57 pm
I pray we seek God's input on where He wants us to serve and to give us courage to say no to the rest. May He have mercy on both of us.
3/1/2022 01:41:45 pm
As an overachiever, I can identify closely with your message. We think that we should do as much as possible in service to our Lord and it becomes overwhelming. Your sister sounds like a very wise woman. Thank you for sharing this helpful and inspiring message.
3/5/2022 02:38:06 pm
I think God has much different expectations of us than we have for ourselves. He just wants us to seek Him first. When we do, we will obey in the right ways and have the proper amount of commitments.
3/1/2022 03:35:11 pm
It took me years to learn my true identity is found in God. For years I strove for achievement and accomplishment in my job and at church -- not turning down one opportunity to serve. But I wasn't joyful or close to God because I didn't take the time to sit at His feet.
3/5/2022 02:38:52 pm
Sitting at God's feet is where we get our true joy and power for life. We live under His grace every day.
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Joanna Eccles has led Bible studies for over ten years and completed the year-long C. S. Lewis Fellows Program. She is passionate about discipleship and helping people know God better. Joanna enjoys coffee, traveling, and reading, and currently lives in Florida.