I think possibly the most difficult thing about being a pastor is getting people to believe God created them for greatness—I’m not saying that there won’t be tragedy or defeat; but to paraphrase Paul in Ephesians, we aren’t saved by good works but for good works!
This week I was teaching from the book of Ruth, chapter 4. Here we see Big Bad Boaz going to the city gates to redeem Ruth. We notice people are praying for Ruth, praying that she would be great like Rachel and Leah. This is the cool part—Ruth brings nothing to the table. She isn’t even present during the redemptive transaction, but yet we see her transitional change from Moabitess to Matriarch due fully and solely to her relationship with the Redeemer.
I challenged the class to grasp onto this redeemed concept and start living as though this is true—to move beyond the elementary principles (such as repentance from dead works) and start focusing on allowing our good works to bring glory to God.
During the small group discussion time, I posed the following question: “What good work or works are going to do this week in recognition of your redeemed position? Or in other words, what is one thing you are you going to do this week to acknowledge that you were created in Christ for good works?”
As I listened to people speak, I couldn’t help but overhear some committing that their good work would be to quit cussing for the week or to quit speaking with sarcasm for the week. . .
Arrgh!!! When will we learn? The old man will not pass away until we put on the new man. We are never told that we will be without sin on this side of heaven, but that remains to steal our focus. We are commanded to love one another, but instead of striving for this, we focus on our own shortcomings. We get stuck. We focus on the things we need to quit doing, dwell on the things we’ve failed at, and fixate on the things we’ve fallen short in. We were created for greatness, yet we refuse to embrace it.