Who were you before you were saved? What were you like before you were born again? What you’re your desires, your plans, and your hopes? They were likely different from your current desires. You were probably a very different person. But when you recognized Jesus as your savior, His Spirit entered you and made you new. He changed you and He continues to change you. Your will aligns more closely to God’s will.
We must be diligent about standing out from the world and being the image of Christ to them. They are lost and we can be the light that leads them to the Truth, the Life, and the Way. Paul encourages us to be different and live out our salvation, and to always be ready to do good for people. Verses 1-2 read,
“Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, 2 to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.”
What if the other person is mean, rude, or a really bad sinner? Do we have to be kind to them? Do we have to do good for the person who is trying to con old ladies out of their pensions or the drug addict? Paul tells us to show perfect courtesy toward all people. Everyone needs Jesus, no one deserves His grace and mercy. You were once lost. What was it that brought you to Jesus? Did someone argue with you, judge you, and tell you to turn or burn? Is that what brought you to redemption? I doubt it. Or did someone lead you to Jesus with love, kindness, and truth? Verses 3-7 say,
“For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. 4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life”
What He did for us, is not meant to be kept for us alone. He washed us and renewed us. He changed us. He poured Himself into us lavishly. We are saved by grace and now have the hope of eternal life for a purpose. We can’t continue living the way we used to live anymore because we are no longer the people we used to be. We are saved by grace but we are saved so that we can do good works. The good we do doesn’t justify us. It doesn’t make up for any sin. But it does give an expression to the Holy Spirit. It does testify to the greatness of The Spirit, the power of Christ, and the love of The Father.
The lost are lost because they’ve been led astray by the prince of this world. Jesus gave us the authority to show them the way to salvation. We show them the Way, the Truth, and the Life through good works, which is God’s love expressed and God’s word manifested. Faith saved us. Grace justified us. But it is good works, the exercising of our spiritual gifts and the fruit of the Spirit that builds the church and leads the lost to Jesus. Verse 8 reads,
“The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.”
Good works not only include working outside the church building but within it. Good works include using our gifts to edify one another, grow in knowledge and love, and become more like Jesus. Building up of the church and loving one another makes us more unified. Unity is a sign of maturity and shows the Holy Spirit in us. Union allows Him to work within us as a group and be manifested even more powerfully than He is as individuals. When Jesus was teaching about church unity and how to handle sin among the brethren He said,
“Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 19 Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”
How He wants to do great and good things with us and through us! Jesus’ promise is not a little thing. He promised that our unity would make anything we ask happen. He promised that even if only two of us come together to agree that He would grant us our request. He promised that even if only two or three of us come together in His name (that is as His representatives doing His will) that He is there with us.
So it is very important to maintain unity. It is extremely important to ensure no one among us is teaching lies, starting arguments, and causing dissention. The dissident causes us to look like the world. He makes us take our eyes off God’s work and puts our minds on foolishness. We are not able to do good works if we are busy arguing over the size of the church bell or whether eating pork is a sin. Verses 9-11 read,
“But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. 10 As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, 11 knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.”
We are not saved by good works. We are not saved by our behavior. We are saved by faith. It is His grace that redeems us. But following Christ means we will do as He wants. We want to obey Him. We want to love as He loves. We want to communicate our gratitude. We want to express the Holy Spirit within us. We are not saved by our good works. We are saved by Jesus’ good work. We were led to Christ because a brother or sister did good works and we saw Jesus in them.
Verse 14 says,
“And let our people learn to devote themselves to good works, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not be unfruitful.”