Good works are always to be part of the believer’s life (James 2:14-36). So what is the difference between people who try to do the right thing and believers who walk in the will of God through their work? I think it is a matter of motivation and resource.
The natural inclination of people is to do the things that benefit them personally. Good work may make them feel good about themselves or give them a sense of moral superiority over other people. Very little of what people do is actually truly selfless. The motive for most people is personal. Humans tend to be rooted in self, drawing nourishment from sources that support their world views.
Paul, however, wrote to the Ephesians that they were to be “rooted and grounded in love” (Ephesians 3:17). And the love of which he wrote was nothing like the best kind of human love. He tried to describe the love of God, but ultimately had to acknowledge that God’s love is wider and longer and higher and deeper than any kind of love the human mind can understand.
If we who are believers are rooted in that love, we are nourished by it, and as our roots grow deeper, our work produces better and healthier results. If we stay grounded in God’s love, we are less likely to do things to glorify ourselves (less likely because we are still human). Our motives turn to the things that create unity, promote peace, and glorify God forever.
But God. Two words that change everything. Circumstances, heartbreak, discouragement, and anxiety about the future might destroy us — But God. Rich in mercy With great love Through immeasurable grace Saved us, made us alive, and situated us in the heavenly places with Christ.
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.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, 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.
This gift changes our perspective on the hard times and alters our motives for continuing in our work while we journey through this life. Humans tend to work for things that they think will bring personal satisfaction: power, influence, success, renown, legacy, and good deeds. These things aren’t necessarily bad in and of themselves, but they cannot satisfy.
When we work within the gift of His grace, our motives aligned with His will, then we find an eternal purpose to the work we do. We have peace, joy, and hope that satisfies better than anything we do on our own (Romans 5:1-5).