In my quiet time today, I considered Isaiah 26. Verse 12 hit me:"O Lord, you will ordain peace for us,
for you have indeed done for us all our works."
It's the second part of the verse that struck me. Nothing good that we do comes from us. That's because in our own power or moral strength, as Isaiah writes elsewhere, "all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment." (Isaiah 64:6) The moment we set out to consciously do a good or righteous thing, our sinful natures stand up to applaud and tell us what wonderful, good people we are, giving the lie to our pretended intrinsic goodness or righteousness.
In Jesus' portrayal of the day when He returns to bring the Kingdom of God in its fullness, He tells His sheep to enter into the joy He's prepared for them because they had visited imprisoned disciples, fed the hungry, clothed the naked, and given drink to the thirsty. In giving these gifts to "the least of these," Jesus says, the sheep really cared for Him. But the sheep have no memory of these good deeds.
This underscores the transformation that happens in the baptized as they turn to Christ in trust. The God revealed to us in Christ invades their lives and God does HIS good work through them. They're just living their lives in the freedom of forgiven sin, the freedom of knowing that as God the Father raised Jesus from the dead, He will do the same for those who trust in Jesus.
This is exactly what the apostle Paul talks about in his famous verse about those who are saved by God's grace through faith in Jesus Christ and not by any good thing they do. He says: "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." (Ephesians 2:8-10)
Notice that good works, being a good person, cannot make us acceptable to God, bring us forgiveness for our sin, or give us eternal life with God. That's because in ourselves, we could never be good enough.
Instead, God gives us faith in Christ, then, as we turn daily turn to Christ (Luke 9:23), Christ does His good works through us and in us. If Christians do anything good, righteous, or loving, they'll know not to take credit for it. In fact, they'll be completely unaware of having done anything good at all.
But Isaiah's words apply to more than just good works. He says to God, "...you have indeed done for us all our works..."
ALL is an ALL-ENCOMPASSING WORD. Without God, we can do nothing.
In Athens in the first century, Paul quoted one of the Greek poets and said of the God we all now can know in Jesus Christ, "...in him we live and move and have our being." (Acts 17:28)
If you're living, breathing, and reading these words, it's the work of God.
If you're able or have been able to make a living by your brain and brawn, your brain and brawn comes from God, along with your capacity to work or think.
God didn't have to give us life. And once the whole human race fell into sin, God didn't have to give new life through the crucified and risen Christ. But He does. And He works in our lives.
Today, like every day, is a good one to repent--turn away from our sin, including our sins of pride and pretended self-sufficiency--and trust in Jesus.