He [God] has made us what we are, creating us in Christ Jesus to do good works, in which God long ago planned for us to live. Ephesians 2:4-10 AAT
Created in Christ Jesus
Being created in Christ Jesus helps us adopt a new life in Christ, the regenerate lifestyle. We are to live as Jesus lived. He had presence, the presence of the Holy Spirit. He walked among the tainted without becoming tainted. People instinctively knew He was a noble person. Those who opposed Him feared Him. Those who were hurting knew He would help them. Those who sought Him knew He loved them. Where He walked, He brought grace and truth. He always did His Fathers will. Now, He leads us in His kingdom, the kingdom of the Son (Col 1:13).
The unregenerate lifestyle is in stark contrast with the regenerate lifestyle. We are to be renewed in the spirit of our mind and to put on the new self, to which God has given life, in righteousness and a true and holy way of living.
But that is not what you learned when you got to know Christ, if you have heard Him and in Him have been taught the truth as it is in Jesus. Strip off your old self, which follows your former ways of living and ruins you as it follows the desires that deceive you. Become new in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new self, to which God has given life, in righteousness and a true and holy way of living. Ephesians 4:20-24 AAT
To do good works
Anytime we do anything motivated by God’s love, we are doing a good work.
The good works in which God planned for us to live are prompted by the Holy Spirit and motivated by love. We feel the tug of divine love prompting us to share God’s kindness, righteousness, and justice (Jer 9:24). The life flow of the Vine motivates and empowers us to bear much fruit. Righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit wells up within us. God’s nature and His power helps us love and be loved in word and in deed. In John 15, Jesus tells us He helps us be fruitful branches of the Vine—faithful, humble, kind, courteous, hospitable, forgiving, and helpful—life sharing fruit bearers. Thus, we supernaturally, naturally do the good works of the kingdom and walk in them.
Good works are inherent in the nurture, fellowship and kinship God our Father blesses us with in the kingdom of His Son (Col 1:9-14). Serving God by loving one another fulfills our deepest longings to be loved and to be useful and productive in the noble things of eternal importance. We get to live and walk in the mutually supportive environment of good works that is created as we stay in Jesus’ love and bear fruit.
God pours His love into our hearts by the Spirit.
Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in our hope of sharing the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us. Romans 5:1-5 ESV
The fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22; Eph 5:19) makes for harmonious relationships in the kingdom of God. As we grow up into the Messiah, more and more of our thoughts, emotions, motivation and actions are in accord with the love God pours into our new creature hearts.
Jesus says, “Love one another as I have loved you.”
You glorify My Father when you bear much fruit and so prove to be My disciples. As the Father has loved Me, so I have loved you. Stay in My love. If you obey My commandments, you’ll stay in My love, as I have obeyed My Father’s commandments and stay in His love. I told you this so that My joy will be in you and your joy will be full. This is what I order you to do: Love one another as I have loved you. John 15:8-13 AAT
Notice, our love is to be directed toward one another, those who follow Jesus. It is also to be rendered in person. Jesus said, “I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me a drink” (Matthew 25:35-36). “Let Me assure you, anything you did for one of My brothers here, however humble, you did for Me” (Matthew 25:40).
John writes, “let us put our love into action and make it real.”
This is how we learned what love is: He gave His life for us. We should give our lives for our fellow Christians. If anyone has this world’s goods and sees his fellow Christian is in need but shuts his heart against him, how can he still be loving God? Children, let us not love only in words or in talk, but let us put our love into action and make it real. 1 John 3:16-18 AAT
Doing great works without love renders them of no gain (1 Cor 13:1-3). The flesh profits nothing (Jn 6:63). The fleshly and religious motivations of do-gooders have given good works a bad name. Years ago, the church lady on one of the night shows was an apt parody. Her punch line was often, “Isn’t that special.” She was funny, sad and real.
Good relationships support good works
The primary place we find Jesus’ brethren is in our own homes. A husband loving and nurturing his wife and children does many good works. Protecting and providing for one’s own family is good work. Raising children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord is good work.
A mother loving and nurturing her children does many good works. Her love takes the sting out of the hurts and wounds of this world; whether it is a child’s owie or hurt feelings, an adolescent’s meltdown or an adult’s heartache.
Children obeying their parents are doing good works.
Along with the good works we do through our natural family relationships we relate with one another as God’s family, particularly our brothers and sisters in the Lord with whom we regularly fellowship. Christ builds His body, the church, as each part is working properly.
Let us tell the truth with love and in every way grow up into Him who is the Head—Christ. He makes the whole body fit together, unites it by every contact with its support, and to the extent that each part is working He makes the body grow and builds it up in love. Ephesians 4:15-16 AAT
As we grow up into Him who is the Head—Christ, He fits us together and to the extent each of us is working, He makes the body grow and builds it up in love. The amount of growing up we have to do is shown by how little we see of each other and of ourselves in this Word. We are just beginning to see that our Messiah has each of us working. He provides sustenance to His body through every part working to fulfill its function. He ministers to His body and through His body. We grow up by doing what He wants us to do.
We work as sharers of Christ’s love in family. as we hold converse with those in our fellowship and the extended body of Christ and as light in society.