Do YOUR Good Works

Does anyone else out there find it difficult to refrain from comparing yourself with others?  Sometimes it's easy to get jealous when comparing yourself, or your house, or your car or your whatever.  That leads me to another subject.  When I was young I thought I could do anything, and I still do.  When I think about Jesus telling people that if they have been given much, then much is required from them, I think if that applies to anyone it applies to me.  I really have been given everything.  But I (unfortunately perhaps) look at that as a cross to bear rather than a reason for rejoicing.  But whether you feel you've been given nothing or everything, we still must work with what we have.

God has a specific plan for my life and one for yours too.  Living out this plan is the best way to show God thanks for all He's done for us.  As hard as it may be, I need to focus on what God has given me (not what He has given anyone else) and I must do the best with what I have.  And the same is true for you.  I'm not saying that I have a vast revelation on this subject (and maybe I"m just preaching to myself here) but I've seen some things in God's Word that may help you if you're going through these issues.

We must first realize that God has good plans for us.  "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end."  (Jeremiah 29:11)  We should notice that "thoughts" here really means "plans" and at its root refers to someone weaving things together.  Then we must see that these plans are plans of peace, which is the word "shalom," meaning peace, safety, prosperity, welfare, health and other great ideas.  Praise God!  God has plans of shalom for you and for me. God's plans for me are different from God's plans for you, but they are shalom plans for both of us.  I need to find God's shalom plans for me, and you need to find God's shalom plan for you.

Now I'm not going to cover this in detail again, but I believe God's plans for our lives consist of three parts: how we should be, what we should have, and what we should do.  We must be conformed to the image of Christ, and as we work on that, and on developing our relationship with the Holy Spirit, we will spiritually discern what God wants us to have and do.  But let's focus for a minute on the "what to do" part of this.

I don't know you about you, but I"m continually wondering what I should do with my life.  The truth is, being self-employed, I could basically do whatever I want tomorrow (for example).  Now that's also true for you, even if you aren't self-employed.  You may lose your job or neglect other things, but for the most part you could do whatever you want.  Sometimes I wish that I wasn't so free so I didn't continually ask myself how I should spend my time.  But regardless, we all have time and we must choose how to use it.  

"For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God has before ordained (prepared beforehand) that we should walk in them."  (Ephesians 2:10)  What an awesome verse, God's shalom plans for my life include specific good works for me to do.  This is, of course, also true for you.  God has some good works for you to do, and God has some good works for me to do.  Now we must develop a relationship with the Holy Spirit so we can discern these good works (as He reveals to us what God has prepared for us) (1 Corinthians 2:9-10).  But let's move on from that as well and combine today's ideas.

God has given me certain gifts, and God has woven certain shalom plans for me, which include certain good works I'm supposed to do.  But, as you know if you've been working on this, it can get very difficult, especially when we compare ourselves to others.  So I have a verse for you that's helping me with this.  "Labor not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom."  (Proverbs 23:4)  

I strongly encourage you to sit back and meditate that verse for a while.  It's truly awesome.  We go through life looking at the world, seeing others, seeing what they do and what they have, and seeing the plans of men come and go, and then we wonder what we should do with our lives.  This is true whether we live for God or not.  But we can not allow worldly, natural wisdom to determine our course of action.  If we apply our wisdom and make our own plans, we will fail.  Even if we succeed by the world's standards, we may arrive in Heaven to find we've wasted our lives.

A wonderful quote I once heard is "if you succeed in that which is not pleasing to God, then you have failed in the midst of success."  I truly believe that.  I have to cease from my own wisdom.  I have to stop thinking about what others do and what I could do.  I must hear what God wants me to do.  

And the first part of the verse is also great.  Basically the entire world works to get rich.  Even if they won't get "rich" they only work for money.  This next idea is difficult and I can only see it at a distance now, but this is where we need to go - we must stop working for money.  We must, like Jesus, commit our ways to God and trust Him for provision.  There's nothing wrong with money, but it can't be the reason for our labors.  We must bestow our labors to please God and show His love to the world (doing the good works He has prepared for us). 

So you see, we need to shed all our worldly plans to better ourselves and improve our situation.  Our goal in life can't be just to improve our lives.  We can't take worldly wisdom and use it to plan our lives.  No, all this thinking, by which the vast majority of people operate, is wrong.  

We need to realize that God has created us with unique talents and purposes.  We need to realize that God has shalom plans for all of our lives.  We must stop comparing ourselves and our lives to others we see.  Instead, we need to focus on God's unique shalom plans for us.  It won't be easy.  In fact, God's shalom plans will take everything we've got plus God's constant grace and power, but we can do it.  This is Godly success.  This is the life we must live.  The is the key to personal fulfillment and purposeful living.  I pray you find God's shalom plans for you, and pray that I find His shalom plans for me.


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