I recently started doing a Bible study entitled, “Becoming a Woman of Simplicity”. I am only few pages in, but already it seems that the author wrote the book specifically for me. One of the best lines so far was by John Phillips, “Good works are not the price of salvation, they are the proof”. The message of the study, thus far, is that when we try to prove our faith by our works, we are prone to become exhausted, overwhelmed and discouraged; not because good works are bad, but because the only work that provides salvation was Jesus’ work on the cross.
During the study, I was reading the small notes I have made in my Bible over the years and this one, in particular, stood out to me, “Works of righteousness NOT works for righteousness: What we do should be because of a changed heart, not to try to win approval or spiritual status. Religion based on works is tied up in pride” and “our service should be prompted by love”.
If you flip in your Bible to Titus 2:11, you’ll read,
“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope – the glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for Him self a people that are His very own, eager [zealous] to do what is good.”
and then, Timothy 6:20
Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care.
That verse in Timothy was a light bulb moment for me. What has been entrusted into my care?
My relationship with the Lord
My relationship with my husband
Sharing the Good News (going forth and making disciples – Matthew 28:19)
So, when I am planning my day, week, month or year, what am I doing with those things (relationships) that have been entrusted into my care? Are they the most important things to me? Am I willing to give up other things to ensure that what has been entrusted to me is flourishing?
Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much… so if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with great riches?
I wonder if this can’t be rewritten to apply to our good works?
“Whoever can be trusted with the few most important things can also be trusted to do more… so if you cannot be trustworthy in caring for those things that have already been entrusted to you, why would God entrust you to take on more good works?”
It is so easy to see the big picture and want to do more, serve more, help more, give more – but when we’re doing those things in our own power, they will be too much for us. Faithfully handling the things that God has given us to do doesn’t earn us more opportunity to serve, but it does help prepare us to serve in more areas. In 1 Timothy 1:3-4, where Paul is describing an elder, he writes, “he [an elder] must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?).
This message of simplicity in terms of works seems to be, ‘take care of what is most important and then, if and when that is done well, be open to doing more. Unfortunately, in this time of the idol of busyness, we often lose sight of the ‘done well’ message and just do, do, do.
Going into this next season of my life, I am committing to Colossians 3:23-24, ‘Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.’ and as I live that out, I will hear Matthew 25:23, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant, you have been faithful with a few things now I will entrust you with many. Come and share in your Master’s joy.’