What is your response to grace?
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Ephesians 2:8–9 gives us essential, foundational truth for our salvation. We are saved through faith in the work of Christ, not through our own works. When we recognize and believe in our need for a sinless Savior who bore the wrath and punishment for our sins, we are recipients of the immeasurable grace of God.
Then what? What should our response be to that grace?
As deep gratitude and abundant praise should always be responses to grace, so too are good works. Good works are not a requirement for our salvation but should be a response from our salvation. The “why” and “how” of this response is described in the verses that surround Ephesians 2:8–9.
A Reminder of Who We Were Before Salvation . . .
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind (vv. 1–3).
The Truth of Who We Are in Christ . . .
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus (vv. 4–6).
So That . . .
So that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them (vv. 7–10).
We were dead in sin. We had no hope. No way to reach God on our own. No good deeds that were good enough to save us. But God. We rejoice over this truth! God’s mercy and grace were given through Christ so that we might display Him.
Do you see this vital detail? While our salvation is personal and praiseworthy, it is not only for us but for others, too. God displays Himself through us, and our good works are part of the way He does that. God’s grace is the fuel for us to do and speak good to those around us so that we might put Him on display.
Two Dangers to Avoid
I find there are often two dangers we fall into when it comes to grace.
First, we forget about it. Or at least we live like we do. Sometimes we just don’t think about grace. We take it for granted. We forget who we were before it. We forget our great need and His great response. When we don’t actively remember the gracious work of our loving Savior, we probably aren’t putting Him on display in all the ways He has prepared for us.
And second, we abuse it. We use grace as a tagline for sin of all kinds. “There’s grace for that” should not be our excuse for failures and shortcomings but the reason why we seek out and complete the good works God has for us. From the big, noticeable works to the tedious, seemingly insignificant works, grace should be our fuel for action, not the replacement for it.
Instead, our response to God’s grace should be sincere, active gratitude. When we purpose to think on God’s grace, we will find the motivation, perspective, and fuel we need for good works.
- To look for, notice, and meet someone’s need.
- To initiate a conversation.
- To respond to a request for help or service.
- And then do those things with a willing spirit.
Good works are not requirements to earn salvation or favor. Instead, they are our opportunity to respond to God’s love and grace, put Him on display, build up His kingdom, and live out our gratitude. The results of those good works are up to Him, but our challenge and commitment to good works will ping about good for others and us. That’s why we should insist on and be careful to do good works. We see this in Titus 3:4–8:
But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 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, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. 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.
God’s grace is both an astounding reality and tremendous gift, so we should think of it and respond to it as such. Grace is not something to claim in a casual way but something that should cause us to respond.
Are you regularly thinking on God’s grace? Do you remember what you have been saved from and the new life He has called you to? What good works are part of your everyday response to God’s grace?
From the Spirit poured out abundantly to you through Christ, devote yourself to good works in response to God’s grace.