What We Do Between the First and Second Comings
Jesus Christ 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.
Through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Paul writes about the two appearances of Jesus Christ. The first appearing of Jesus Christ brought with it the grace of salvation (v. 11). This grace teaches us inwardly how to “renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age” (v. 12). And we look forward to the day when Jesus Christ will return (v. 13).
So, in between the salvation brought about when Jesus first came and the blessed hope of when Jesus will come again, what has God called us to do? It’s there in verse 14: God has purified a people for his own possession for a reason; to do something.
The final words of Titus 2:14 literally mean, “zealous (totally committed) to excellent/beautiful works.”
For years, I over-spiritualized texts like this. I presumed God’s call to his people to merely do “good work” alone could not be godly enough. I thought, Surely God must mean "evangelism" when he says "good works" since all other work is not significant. But this is not so. According to the highly-respected Greek Lexicon written by Louw and Nida, the Greek word for “work” (ergon) simply means, “that which one normally does—‘work, task.’”
That’s all. Work. A task.
The reason God has made us his special people is so we might do excellent/beautiful works or tasks. God has not saved us because we do good works (we can’t save ourselves), but he has saved us for good works, which God prepared beforehand for us to do (see Eph. 2:8-10).
Work is integral to being a Christian. God wants us to participate in his mission of restoring this fallen world, reconciling it all back to himself (see Col. 1:20), by being zealous for good works.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: In light of your salvation, do you believe God has called you to be “totally committed to good/excellent/beautiful works”? In your personal context, what is “good/excellent/beautiful work”? How can you cooperate with God’s Spirit within you to become totally committed to excellent work?
PRAYER: Gracious God, we thank you for the first appearance of your Son, which brought us salvation and the inner ability to become all that you want us to be. We look forward to the second appearance of your Son, which will bring to culmination the hope that is within us. In the meantime, as we wait for that glorious appearing, we commit our works to you. May they be used by you for your glory and for the purposes of your mission in the world. Help us to submit to your Spirit so that we may be the kind of righteous people that will be able to do what you have called us to do. Amen.
Work for God
Whatever work you do, it matters to God. And you can glorify God through your work. God doesn't give more points or ascribe more value to pastoral or missionary or non-profit work. God looks at you and the work you do in your cubicle or classroom or kitchen or conference call, and all of it matters to him. It's not just ministers who work for God. No matter what type of work we do, let's do it to the glory of God. This series, Work for God, reminds us to do all of our work as if we were working for God, because we are.