For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. – Ephesians 2:10
Behind the Book
The apostle Paul wrote this letter to the churches in Ephesus and the surrounding region c. A.D. 62 while imprisoned in Rome. Ephesians gives us general instruction in the truths of God’s redemptive work in Christ, the unity of the church among diverse peoples, and proper conduct in the church, the home, and the world. Chapter 2 focuses on our salvation by grace through faith.
Faith and Work Application
In order to reflect fully on Ephesians 2:10, I think we need to include the context of verses 8 and 9: 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.
We were created by God and we were saved through God’s grace. Both were God’s gifts to us, without us having to do a single thing. The number and grandness of our works have no sway on whether God grants us the gift of being saved.
So then, why should we care about doing good works?
Let’s start with the first part of verse 10: recognizing that we are God’s handiwork, God’s masterpiece. This idea changes our self-perception. When we see ourselves as valuable, loved, and significant, our identity becomes anchored in God’s love and His intentional design rather than the shifting sands of societal standards or personal insecurities. We don’t have to succeed at work or ‘get everything right’ to maintain or deserve God’s love. We are valuable, loved, and significant in God’s eyes simply because God made us.
The second section of verse 10 shares that the Creator intricately designed us for a purpose. God worked to create a world where he could share his love, creativity, and skills, and he has given us the same opportunity. The more we realize we can live a life full of love and intention, by living our lives like Christ, the less insignificance, unworthiness, and purposelessness we will feel. It also frees us from the burden of striving to earn God’s favor and allows us to enter into a relationship with him based on his love and mercy.
Understanding our calling is liberating. The last part of the verse brings even more intention and purpose to our lives: it tells us that we are not just saved from something (sin and separation from God) but for something (good works). These good works are not arbitrary; they are divinely ordained. God has prepared them in advance for us.
Our calling is inherently tied to doing good works. These works, living each day full of God’s love, grace, and peace, are a testimony to our transformed lives. They are not the means of salvation but the evidence of it.
Our calling has a broader impact beyond our lives. By engaging in good works, we become agents of God’s love, grace, and transformation in the world. We influence others positively and bring glory to God through our actions.
Get back to the basics of ‘good works’ this week. Notice if there are any external factors (perhaps family health issues, car trouble, a difficult relationship at work, etc.) or internal factors (self-doubt about succeeding at a new work project, hyper-focusing on personal issues you haven’t been able to let go of, or struggles with perfectionism, etc.) that may be hindering you from waking up and feeling the full capability to go into each day ready to share God’s love as much as you can. Choose whatever you think is affecting you the most this week and spend extra time talking to God about it. Go the extra step and share the issue with a friend, mentor, or supervisor. Allow yourself plenty of time to reflect on and create a plan to approach what’s affecting you from living out your calling instead of trying to ignore the issues that hurt and are holding you back.
Thank you, Lord, for the calling you’ve placed on my life, a purpose that surpasses my understanding. I lift up the concerns that threaten to hold me back from pursuing the calling you’ve placed on my heart. Grant me the strength to overcome any doubts, fears, or insecurities. Help me to fix my eyes on you and the purpose you’ve designed for me. Amen.