Zealous for Good Works

Titus 2:14 …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.

 

The theme of this blog is “think eternal” and the ways God is teaching us to live every moment of our lives with his glory and love as our sole motivation and purpose.  As we daily strive to be thinking eternally it can be very easy to get caught up in what we need to do or not do and lose sight of the grace of God which doesn’t require us to do anything. As followers of Christ who are supposed to be Christ-like, this is a difficult principle to balance in real life application. I am a “doer”, so I especially struggle with feeling like I’m never doing enough. Thankfully God knows our hearts better than we know them ourselves and he has been revealing the many places in his Word that speak to this issue and can help keep us sorted.

In Titus 2:14 it says “[Jesus] 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.” Jesus sacrificed himself so he would have a people who were zealous, eager, even excited to do good works! This isn’t the picture the world seems to have (or we may even have ourselves) of Christians who have to give up all the exciting things of the world and become staunch, joyless beings who do “good works”. No! This is the redeemed, who have been renewed by the Holy Spirit and washed with regeneration and find eternal joy and fulfillment in doing what God created them to do!  The good works have become the exciting things of life: to love God, obey his commands and love others like he has loved us. This isn’t an obligation of drudgery, but what we long to do with our lives. With fresh hearts and minds, the things of this world are no longer so desirable.

This begs the question then, how do I become “zealous” for good works? And again we fall into the trap of trying to do something to become more zealous! But we’ve then missed the point of the verse. It says Jesus purified a people who are zealous for good works. There is nothing in there about what we did or are supposed to do. Jesus did all the work for us. He wanted a people for his own possession, so he did what had to be done. He bore our sins on the cross, paid our unpayable debt, and gave us his righteousness. As I’ve been meditating on this verse, the same pattern has come up in so many other Bible passages. In John 13, Jesus is washing the disciples’ feet and says “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” If we are to be a part of Jesus, then we must allow him to wash us clean, purify us from lawlessness. In Psalm 23 it says, “He guides me in the path of righteousness, for His name’s sake.” And again, John 15:4 says we can’t bear fruit unless we are abiding in Jesus. He cleanses me, He guides me, and He abides in me so I am righteous, fruitful, and eager to do good works. Our role is simply to fall at the feet of Jesus in worship, confess our sin, and allow him to dwell in us. If we let him, he will give us hearts like his, excited to do the good works we have been created for.

John 13:8 Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.”

John 15: 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.

Ephesians 2:9 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

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