Christians are supposed to be different, not different-weird but different from the sinful, selfish people we once were. For instance, when Jesus encountered a rich man who was a “chief tax collector” and called a sinner by many who knew him, that man was transformed:
“And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, ‘Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.’” (Luke 19:8)
Today’s devotional passage also talks about that change, affirming that it not about pulling ourselves up by our own bootstraps, but about something God does by grace and for His purposes:
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:4–10)
The changes made by God are because of His mercy and love, not anything I did or could do. I was “dead in sin” and dead people are useless. To that need, He made me “alive in Christ” together with other Christians and gave us an eternal place with Him in the heavenly places that we might experience His grace and kindness. That is a huge change. Before my salvation, I enjoyed “common grace” in that I could live and breathe, but I had no clue about the matters of God or His purposes for my life.
These changes produced by God are for good works, not because of good works. That is, I could not do anything to please God until after He sent Jesus into my life. However, He had prepared good works for me to do — even though I could not do them until He saved me by grace and changed my heart, motivations, attitude, and direction.
What delights me is that what God wants me to do (His will for my life) was planned and prepared beforehand. That is, God had my life mapped out long before He walked into it. I do not have to struggle with “what is God’s will for my life?” because He knows it and has saved me so I can do it. My part is paying attention to Him in obedience, one step at a time.
Jesus, this is a great assurance. You created the plan and You also direct it and make it happen. How do I know that? I know it because the most important step in that plan was changing my life just as You changed the life of Zacchaeus and millions of other people. There are times when I disobey for which I regret, yet You know all things and have worked out Your plan regardless of my stumbling and resistance. Because of your great love, I walk with You and am grateful that You know and guide each step that I take.