If I have a job to do, it is important that I have the right equipment. To have the right equipment, I need to know where to get it.
For example, if I am going to do some work around the house, I will go to a hardware store to get the right tools. If I am going camping, there are a range of camping stores I can go to find the equipment I will need. If I decide I want to get really step outside of my comfort zone and try sewing or knitting, apparently there are stores where I can buy everything I need to make my own clothes!
But where can I go to get what I need to do the good things that God is calling me to do?
In Ephesians 2:8-9, Paul tells us that we are saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus. Salvation is a gift from God. However, we can sometimes forget that the next verse is also an essential part of God’s plan for the salvation of the world:
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. (v10 NLT)
God makes us new by the power of his Spirit to do good in the world and participate in his plan of redeeming the world through the good we do. This sounds like a big job! So where do we go to be equipped, or to get the right tools, to do the good that God has planned for us to do?
Paul is telling Timothy that the word of God equips us to do good. It is through the Holy Scriptures, also known as the Bible, that God actually gives us what we need so we can do the good he has planned for us to do. Just like I might go to a hardware or camping store, or even a haberdashery to get the right equipment to complete those tasks, so we go to the Bible to find what we need so we can do the good that God has called us to do in this life.
Paul explains the way that God equips us in verse 16. First, God shows us what is right and good for us to do. We need to be listening to the Bible for the ways God wants us to live and how we are to relate to the people around us. Next, and this can get uncomfortable for us, God shows us what is wrong with our lives. Most of the time we don’t like seeing this, but Paul is saying that if we are going to do the good God wants us to, we need to have the humility and faith to admit and confess our wrongs. It’s not natural for us, so the Holy Spirit needs to be doing this in us through the Word of God. Thirdly, God corrects us when we are wrong by making us right with him. God’s word doesn’t just tell us what is correct. It actually corrects us, or makes us right again, by giving us new hearts and minds that are one with Jesus. This is what we call grace. Finally, God’s word teaches us to do what is right by living in faith and in love. This ‘training in righteousness’ (NIV) helps us learn how to live in God’s grace as well as living out his grace in our relationships with the people around us.
All of this comes from the Bible as God gives us what we need to live in loving, grace-filled relationships with other people through his word. Doing good isn’t about keeping rules or trying harder. God wants his grace to flow through us, into the world and into the lives of every person. He gives us what we need to extend grace and love to others by first extending grace and love to us through the message of the Bible. By discovering and growing in God’s love and grace in his word, the Holy Spirit of God breathes life into us as the Spirit equip us with the faith and love we need to do the good God has planned for us and join him in his plan to redeem the world.
This is a good reason to spend more time reading our Bibles. God wants us to be immersed in his word so that we learn what is right, to bring us back to him in repentance and faith, to re-create us through his word of forgiveness, and to help us live in ways that trust him and show self-giving love to the people around us. I can’t find that anywhere else other that the Bible. That is why, as we discuss being a ‘Simple Church’ and our ministry to young people in the congregation, I will be keeping God’s word central. As Jesus’ disciples, we need to be anchored and growing in God’s word. This is also why I am offering to meet with people every fortnight to read our Bibles together. I want to help people find God’s grace and love in the words of Scripture, so that together we can be more and more equipped to do God’s work in the world.
As the Holy Spirit works on us by ‘teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness’ (v16 NIV), God will give us the tools or equipment we need – his grace, his love, his peace, and more – so we can live in grace-filled, loving, peace-giving ways, doing the good he has prepared in advance for us to do and bringing his goodness into the world.
More to think about:
- Do you regularly read the Bible? What are your main reasons for reading or not reading it?
- What sort of things do you usually think of when Christians talk about ‘good works’? How might your understanding of ‘good works’ be different if you thought of them as showing the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22,23) or the kind of love Paul describes (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a)?
- How might the idea that God will equip you (give you what you need) to do good through the Bible help you to read his word?
- What do you need most to do the good that God has prepared for you to do? How might living in God’s grace give you what you need?
- What’s stopping you from spending more time in God’s word and finding his goodness there? How could you overcome that?