There is an unnecessary conflict today in Christianity. We all agree that we are saved by grace through faith, a gift from God and not from ourselves. (Ephesians 2:8-9) Where do we derail and fall into works? We somehow believe in error that works equals self effort. Paul tells us very plainly,
Be imitators of God, therefore, as beloved children, Ephesians 5:1
The word imitators in Greek is, “mimetai,” where we get our word, “mimic.” But perhaps the most overlooked word in this verse is the word, “therefore.” It is the telling of the means, or source of the imitation. What Paul is saying is, when we are fully convinced of our Father’s love. When we have no more doubt, no more fears, no more worries about our Father’s unconditional, unchanging love, we will imitate Him, we will love as He loves us simply as fruit of His love.
In Galatians 5, Paul contrasts the works of the flesh with the fruit of the Spirit. Notice the difference? Works result from effort. Fruit is simply the result of life. It is effortless.
Our “work” is to bear fruit (John 15:1-17; Matthew 12:33; James 3:18). We are unable to produce, or work up this fruit. It is a gift, the result of life, or in the context of Ephesians 5:1, the simple reflection of the Father’s love that has permeated, saturated, and now is overflowing from within our lives. There is no effort involved. It is simply the result of life, God’s life in us.
So the next time you feel you need to get up and work for God, work for righteousness, think again. Right believing produces right living. It’s not the other way around!
But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, Romans 3:21-22
Beloved, Christ has done all the work for you. His supply always supersedes our needs. His greatest joy is serving you. He is always looking for opportunities to bless you. Only when we rest in Him, and put our faith in Him and not in our own efforts can His life freely produce all He desires for us. Rest in Jesus’ love for you. Consent to His unfailing love and watch the fruit grow.