Doing What You Were Made to Do

Ephesians 2:10

September 3, 2006 | Brian Bill

A friend of mine  was out walking in town this week when he noticed a little boy on the porch of a house attempting to ring the doorbell.  The boy was so short that he couldn’t reach it.  My buddy being the helpful servant that he is, and always wanting to do good deeds, reached up and aggressively began ringing the doorbell for the boy.  He kept pushing it and pushing it and then asked the boy, “Now what, young man?”  The boy, already moving away, yelled, “Now we run like crazy!”

While some of us may want to run like crazy when we’re asked to serve, most of us are eager to serve because we’ve settled the servanthood issue.  This was demonstrated powerfully yesterday when over 30 people showed up to work on roofing our old building.  One guy I talked to suggested that I keep the sermon interesting today because a bunch of people will be really tired.  I told him that they could take a nap because they don’t really need to hear about servanthood.  He smiled, and with sweat dripping down his face, said, “Yeah, I don’t really need sermons on being a servant either, but there’s always more I can learn.”  Last Sunday we learned that serving doesn’t make us servants; but if we are servants we will serve.  This morning we’re going to keep pushing the doorbell in one key passage so that we will be motivated to do what we were made to do.  Please turn in your Bible to Ephesians 2:10: “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”  Because this verse is packed with profound truth, we’re going to push the doorbell four times as we look at it phrase-by-phrase.

1. We are the Majesty’s Masterpiece. 

The first push of the doorbell answers the “who” question.  “For we are God’s workmanship…” The word “workmanship” in the Greek sounds like our English word for poem and refers to what is composed or constructed.  It was used to refer to any finished work of art, whether a statue or a song, a poem or a painting.  The emphasis is on God and brings us back to Genesis 1:1: “In the beginning God created…” You and I are masterpieces of the Majesty.

Michelangelo was once asked what he was doing as he was chipping away at a shapeless rock.  I love his reply: “I’m liberating an angel from this stone.”   The artwork up here on the stage was done with care and precision by our own Lisa Mayback.  She is the designer of these drawings, and they are the product of her workmanship.  Likewise, God has produced you in His image and as such you have value, worth, and dignity.  You are an original, one-of-a kind person.  Soak up these Scriptures:

Deuteronomy 32:6: “Is he not your Father, your Creator, who made you and formed you?” 

Psalm 100:3: “Know that the LORD is God.  It is he who made us, and we are his…”

Isaiah 43:21: “The people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise.”  

Isaiah 60:21: “…The work of my hands, for the display of my splendor.”

Zephaniah 3:17 says that “The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save.  He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” God delights in you because He designed you just the way He wants you to be.  He breaks out into song when He thinks of you because you display His splendor.

People will serve when they fall more deeply in love with the Master because service is an outflow of a growing relationship with Jesus

I was asked a great question this week by someone who wanted to know why I think some people don’t serve.  A number of responses started forming in my mind but one answer came right to the top: People will serve when they fall more deeply in love with the Master because service is an outflow of a growing relationship with Jesus.  As we talked some more it became clear that our “being” leads to “doing,” not the other way around.  Servants serve because of their devotion to the Master.  What we do must flow from who we are.  Friends, we must understand who we are before we start serving.  The motivation for ministry must be love for the Master.  

The danger of a sermon series on servanthood is that you can either feel guilty for not doing more or you can run like crazy into multiple ministries.  The key is to grow in your love for the Master and when you do, you’ll understand who He has made you to be.  You are the Majesty’s masterpiece.  We don’t want to guilt you into giving of your time.  Instead we want to grace you to give because of all that He has given to you.  You are loved more than you can imagine; you are treasured more than you know because you matter to the Master.

In his classic book called “The Imitation of Christ,” Thomas a Kempis writes: “Prop yourself up with, and for Christ, if you wish to live with Christ.  If just once you could perfectly enter the inner life of Jesus and experience a little of his passionate love, then you would not care at all about what you might gain or lose in life.”  Friend, let His love for you and your response to Him become the motivation for your ministry.  Because you are His masterpiece, savor your relationship with Him and serve accordingly.  Psalm 63:3: “Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.”

2. We are Recreated in Christ. 

The first thing to settle is your identity as a believer.  You are the Majesty’s Masterpiece.  The second push on the doorbell is what God did: “…created in Christ Jesus…” The word created means to bring something into existence, and is used in the New Testament of God’s creativity.  If you’re a believer in Jesus Christ, you are not only His masterpiece but you are a new creation.  2 Corinthians 5:17 gets right to the heart of this truth: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”  Galatians 6:15 adds, “…what counts is a new creation.” 

One of the most powerful sermons I have ever heard was preached by E.V. Hill called, “The Greatest Thing God Ever Did.”  He starts by asking the question, “When was God at His best?”  Was it when He created the world out of nothing?  As E.V. Hill develops this in great detail, you’re led to believe that this was when God was at His best.  But then he says, “No, that wasn’t the greatest thing God ever did.”  Then he preaches through the Passover, explains the Exodus and then ends up in Bethlehem, asking this question, “Was God at His best when He sent His Son to be born?”  In his inimitable style, He develops this in great detail, indicating that the Incarnation was a great event, but it wasn’t the greatest thing God has ever done.  As I listened to the sermon I was beginning to wonder if the Incarnation wasn’t God’s best day, then when was God at His best?  

E.V. Hill then reflects on the resurrection.  Surely, this was God at His best!  When he finishes retelling the resurrection story, pointing out that God has destroyed death, defeated the devil and made our salvation secure; it’s obvious that this has to be the greatest thing God ever did.  But then He says, “No, that wasn’t God at His best.”  I started to scratch my head at this point, and became a bit uncomfortable because I couldn’t think of anything greater than the Resurrection.  And then, at the very end of the message he says, “The greatest thing God ever did was to save a seven-year-old black boy on a dirt road in Alabama…and that boy was me!”

Don’t rush by that little phrase, “in Christ” for these two words summarize what salvation is all about.  Once we put our faith in Him, we are considered connected to Him, and as we’ve been learning in our study of Romans, His righteousness is transferred to our account; resulting in our redemption and justification.  We are accepted, secure, significant, and free.  One of my favorite verses is Romans 8:1: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”  89 different times in the New Testament we read that believers are “in Christ.”  As we will learn from Romans 5 in a few weeks, we are either “in Christ” or we are “in Adam.”  We are either saved or not saved; either redeemed or unredeemed; in the kingdom of light or in the kingdom of darkness; on the road to heaven or on the highway to hell.  It’s an either/or situation.  

If you’re not sure you’re “in Christ,” the first nine verses of Ephesians 2 are just what you need.  You can go from being dead in your transgressions and sins and being an object of God’s wrath, to being made alive with Christ, seated with Him in the heavenly places.  Before we can treasure Ephesians 2:10, Ephesians 2:8-9 must first be true in our lives: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast.”   

Tom carried his new boat to the edge of the river and carefully placed it in the water, slowly letting out the string.  He admired the boat he had built and marveled at how gracefully it floated on the water.  Suddenly a strong current caught the boat.  Tom tried to pull it back to shore, but the string broke.  As the little boat raced downstream Tom ran along the sandy shore as fast as he could.  But his little boat soon slipped out of sight.  All afternoon he searched for the boat.  Finally, when it was too dark to look any longer, Tom sadly went home.  

A few days later, on the way home from school, Tom spotted a boat just like his in a store window.  When he got closer, he could see—sure enough—it was his!  He hurried to the store manager and exclaimed: “Sir, that’s my boat in your window!  I made it!”  The manager replied, “Sorry, son, but someone else brought it in this morning.  If you want it, you’ll have to buy it for one dollar.”  Tom ran home and counted all his money.  Exactly one dollar! When he reached the store, he rushed to the counter. “Here’s the money for my boat.”  As he left the store, Tom hugged his boat and said, “Now you’re twice mine.  First, I made you and now I bought you.” 

If you are a born-again believer, you belong to God twice.  He made you as His masterpiece and then He bought you with a price.  You’ve been created and recreated.  You’ve been born twice so there is no question to whom you belong.

3. We are Saved to Serve. 

Once we figure out who we are and what God has done, then we can figure out why we’re here.  This third ringing of the doorbell gets to the heart of our purpose in life.  Rick Warren writes: “Without a purpose, life is motion without meaning.”

Look again at Ephesians 2:10: “…to do good works…” The word “good” means something profitable that benefits others.  And the word “work” reminds us that it involves effort because by nature we are selfish and focused primarily on three people: me, myself and I.  

Some of us shy away from the phrase “good works” because we know that we’re not saved by what we do.  That’s true, but we are called to care and because of God’s grace at work in our lives we have been created in Christ Jesus to do good works.  Good works are not the root of salvation but they are the fruit of saving faith; they are not the way of salvation but the walk of salvation.  A person is not saved by good works but a saved person works.

Still not convinced?  Listen to these verses:

Matthew 5:16: “In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” 

2 Corinthians 9:8: “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” 

Titus 2:14: “Who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.” 

Titus 3:8: “This is a trustworthy saying.  And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good.”

Hebrews 3:16: “And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” 

I loved what our youth pastor said recently:  “You were made on purpose, with a purpose, and for a purpose…In other words, whether you believe it or not, you fit…You are not an accident!  You are not here to take up space and oxygen.  You have a mission, a journey, a path to walk.”  At the end of his message, he challenged the students to get out of their chairs and to come up and take a puzzle piece, indicating that they were ready to plug in and to do something.  It was very moving to watch as student after student got out of their seats, found their piece of the puzzle, and agreed to live out their theme of “Saved to Serve; Created to Care” this next year.  During that night the students watched a video that summarizes the centrality of servanthood.  We have one life and therefore we must “do something.” 

4. God Has Prepared Our Paths. 

In His glorious grace, God has not only told us who we are, what He has done, and why we’re here, the fourth ringing of the doorbell determines where we are to do good works: “…which God prepared in advance for us to do.” This literally means “to make ready beforehand.”  We could say it this way: God has not only prepared us for good works; He has prepared good works for us.  The deeds that God wants us to do have been decreed beforehand.  It’s an amazing truth that our good works have been prepared for us even before we were born.  Jeremiah 1:5: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”  David says a similar thing in Psalm 139:16: “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

Ephesians 1:11 teaches that we are predestined to salvation; Ephesians 2:10 says that where we serve has been predetermined.  Our deeds are selected; now we must make sure we do them.  The phrase “to do” is translated “walk” in some versions and literally means to go here and there or to tread all around.  This truth gives me great comfort because I don’t have to search hard for what God wants me to do every day.  I just need walk in the ways that He’s prepared for me.  It’s not up to us to go out and figure out what we should do for God.  God has already taken care of that.  It’s up to us to find out what God has for us to do.  Sometimes I wonder how many times I have missed the good works that God has prepared for me due to my selfishness or busyness or sinfulness.  But then I take comfort in God’s sovereignty again, knowing that He will use someone else to meet the need that I was intended to meet.  I’ll just miss out on the blessing of being a blessing to someone else.

Let’s summarize.  What God chooses, He cleanses; what God cleanses, He molds; what God molds, He fills; what God fills, He uses.  Do you hear the four rings of the doorbell?  

  • You are the Majesty’s Masterpiece
  • You are Recreated in Christ
  • You are Saved to Serve
  • God has Prepared Your Paths

Accepting your assignment

1. Make sure your doing comes out of your being.

When we’re growing in grace, we can then give out in grace, not because we have to, but because we want to.  Working for God is an honor, not a bother.  When the famed English architect, Sir Christopher Wren, was directing the building of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, some of the workers were interviewed by a journalist who asked them: “What are you doing here?”  The first worker said, “I’m cutting stone for three shillings a day.”  The second replied, “I’m putting in ten hours a day on this stinkin’ job.”  The third guy replied, “I’m helping Sir Christopher Wren build the greatest cathedral in Great Britain for the glory of God.”

2. Small is often bigger than the big.

As I watched the different reports about Ernesto coming into Florida, I chuckled when I heard a reporter say in kind of a bummed out voice: “Ernesto has failed to become a hurricane.”  It was amazing how disappointed the media seemed to be that it wasn’t a big story.  We all like to minister in the lights, to do the really big things.  But remember that everything is great in which God is the source.  If He has prepared a good work for you to walk in, it is never too small to the Savior.  Listen to these words of Jesus in Matthew 10:42: “And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward.”

3. Pray so you know what God has prepared for you. 

Ask God every day: “God, what good works have you prepared for me today?  Help me to do what you’ve already decreed.”  Be curious about interruptions because most of the time they are actually opportunities that God has prepared for you.  Disappointments are His appointments.  God has some good works prepared for you here.  

4. Do good works at work or serve your fellow students. 

On this Labor Day weekend, where we honor our jobs and the work that is done in our country, servanthood must be lived out in the workplace, or on our campus, because that’s where most of us spend the majority of our time.  That reminds me of the dad who took his daughter to work one day.  His daughter seemed excited to meet each co-worker.  On the way home, however, she seemed sad.  “Didn’t you have a nice time?” her dad asked.  “Well, it was okay,” Amy responded.  “But I thought it would be more like a circus.”  Her dad was confused and asked, “What do you mean?”  She said, “Well, you said you work with a bunch of clowns, and I never go to see them!”  Those clowns you work with need you to do the work that has been prepared beforehand for you to do.  Those students around you need to be served. 

5. Walk across the room

Take a deep breath this week and simply walk over to someone who is hurting or lonely or whatever

A walk consists of two simple steps, repeated over and over again.  William Penn wrote: “I expect to pass through life but once.  If therefore there be any kindness I can show or any good thing I can do to any fellow-being, let me do it now, and not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.”  Take a deep breath this week and simply walk over to someone who is hurting or lonely or whatever.  You could start today, right after the service ends.  Instead of talking to someone you already know, go up to someone you don’t know and begin a conversation.

6. Do the next thing.  

Sometimes we get overwhelmed because it seems so complicated and difficult to serve.  I’ve been reading about productivity this week and learned some new concepts from a book called “Getting Things Done.”  One of the most helpful hints is to simply do the next thing.  When you know what you need to do next, then do it.

God has painted a picture for us in Communion.  It’s a portrait of His love and a reminder of what His Son went through for us.  He’s ringing the doorbell because He wants to get your attention.  Will you answer Him?

Do you have any thoughts or questions about this post?