Where do I get my sense of worth and value? What defines me?
Take a few minutes and consider these questions for yourself. This kind of introspection is challenging, and the answers may be hard for you to discern. For most of us, our sense of value and worth is defined through a blend of our deepest convictions, closest relationships, and a whole lot of what we do.
Sinapis entrepreneurs are inspiring catalysts for change. You see needs in the world and pour yourself into creating solutions. You strive every day to make your dream of a profitable Kingdom business a reality. You embrace the struggle and sacrifice.
Because you are an entrepreneur, you are also among those who are most vulnerable to determining your worth by what you do. When you are successful, life is good. So what happens when something completely outside your control like COVID-19 threatens to destroy what you’re building? How do you respond when your dream could be taken away through no fault of your own?
In chapter 2 of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, we find answers to these questions in some of the most beloved verses in all of the Bible.
8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. – Ephesians 2:8-10
In verses 8-9, Paul makes it clear that salvation comes through faith and not by works. It is a gift that originates with God and is “not from ourselves”. We are simply to humble ourselves and receive the gift of grace through faith. Only then will we find our true, unshakeable identity.
But too often, we stop reading in verse 9. Is receiving God’s grace and acceptance the end of the story? Is God uninterested in what we do? The answer is an emphatic “no”. With the right foundation of grace established, in verse 10 we learn that God created us to join Him in doing good works.
10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
The word “handiwork” isn’t commonly used today. It comes from the Greek “poiēma” and means “something crafted with skill and for a purpose by God”. This is where we get the word “poem” in English. Other translations use “workmanship” or “masterpiece” to help us understand the essence of the word. To put it simply: the ultimate Designer in the universe handcrafted you. He gave you a particular set of skills, talents, and interests to be an instrument of good works in the world. You are a unique poem carefully written by the author of all life to communicate truth and hope and beauty in the world.
It gets even better. In the second half of verse 10, God offers two incredibly relevant promises for you to hold onto during this time of crisis. The first is that God prepared good works in advance for you to do. Before you were born, God knew that the world would be facing this global pandemic. He knew that at this time, you would be an entrepreneur struggling to lead a business through this trial. It is no coincidence or mistake that you are leading today. He prepared good for you to do now. Does that give you courage? Does it stir a sense of curious excitement? Are you lifting up your eyes and looking for these good works that can change lives and even eternal realities?
The second critical point from verse 10 is that “works” is plural. You weren’t created for a good work. You were created for good works. With an “s”. Why is this significant? Many Kingdom entrepreneurs fall into the trap of unconsciously viewing their business as the one most important work in their life. It is the one weighty task that defines them. In the extreme, the business can become their reason for living.
Viewing a single good work as the purpose of your life is dangerous. As the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted your business, you may have had to let key employees go. You may not know how to pay creditors or make payroll. You may ultimately face the loss of the business. All of this is heartbreaking, but I want to assure you that this is not the only good work that you were prepared for. At Sinapis, we talk often about the importance of pivoting from one business pursuit to another. Being too wedded to your current strategy can mean missing something far better. The reality that there are many works planned for you before you were born should inspire confidence that you are free from tying your identity to any single company, venture, plan or position. Until your last day on earth, God always has more planned for you.
So this wouldn’t be Sinapis without practical application. Here are three things you can do this week to live into these truths.
- Receive God’s love for you every morning. Make it a practice to spend 5-10 minutes before you start your day in a quiet posture of receiving from God. Ask Him to reveal His heart to you. He will.
- Ask the Lord to show you the good works that He prepared for you that day. An amazing set of life-changing opportunities are in front of you. Ask God to show you what He has uniquely prepared for you, even during this time of crisis.
- Stand firm in the promise that God has prepared many good works for you to do in your life. No single work defines your worth. Open your hands and heart to the Lord and trust Him.
Today our world is paralyzed by fear. Many are desperate and don’t know where to turn. You are God’s handiwork, a poem of God to offer hope and good works rooted in Christ. You were made for this moment, and God is with you.
Special thanks to my friend Chris Armas for sharing your insights into this passage and for your heart for Kingdom entrepreneurs.
Written by Matthew Rohrs