We Are His Workmanship

For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which god prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10).

You probably know the name C. S. Lewis.

If you do, there’s a good chance you know his name in association with one of his best-known books Mere Christianity. Just as likely, you might know the series of books he did for children, The Chronicles of Narnia. At the very least, you might have seen one of the movies based on that series of books.

What you might not know is that this brilliant and widely admired man lived with a nagging sense of being a failed writer.

His earliest literary aspirations had nothing to do with the Christian faith. Lewis had ambitions as a poet. Years before Lewis re-discovered his faith, years before Mere Christianity or any other work of Christian apologetics, Lewis published a volume of poems under the title Spirits in Bondage (1919). The book didn’t do very well, generating both lukewarm sales and lukewarm reviews.

A decade later, in a letter dated August 1930, Lewis wrote to his friend Arthur Greeves: “From the age of sixteen onwards I had one single ambition from which I never wavered, in the prosecution of which I spent every ounce I could, on which I really and deliberately staked my whole contentment: and I recognize myself as having unmistakably failed in it.”

God’s Poem

I’ve tried my hand at poetry only a few times. None of those efforts produced anything that encouraged me to keep working at it. Simply put, poetry is hard. Good poetry is harder still.

A poem is a highly crafted piece of writing. Every word demands attention. Poems have a certain rhythm and meter. Sometimes words rhyme, but not always. Some forms, such as a sonnet, conform to a specific pattern line by line. Poems can’t be written in a hurry, and they can’t be read in a hurry. That probably explains why few people read poetry.

Knowing this, it’s interesting that in Ephesians 2:10 Paul uses a Greek word that gives us the English word ‘poem.’ Paul writes that we are God’s poiema.

The NIV Bible renders that word ‘handiwork.’

The NRSV translation says we are God’s ‘masterpiece.’

The ESV translates the Greek word as ‘workmanship.’

You get the idea. Paul is reminding us that we are a highly crafted creation of a grace-giving God. You were made with intent and purpose. And not only that, the crafting and intent of the maker is the key to discovering your best life – a life full of meaning. The life your creator intends for you to live.

The things you love, the things that bring you joy, the abilities or skills that feel second nature to you – none of those things are an accident. You are God’s poiema. His poem. His masterpiece.

Your Deep Gladness

The 1981 film Chariots of Fire is the story of Eric Liddell and his place on Britain’s 1924 Olympic team. Liddell was also a missionary and his training for the Olympics delayed his going to the mission field – something that greatly displeased his sister.

In a scene where Eric tries to explain his passion for running to his sister, he reassures her of his commitment to his missionary calling. But then he adds that the Olympics is also a kind of calling. “God made me fast, and when I run I feel his pleasure.”

Here’s a question to consider today: Is there something that you do, that when you do it, you feel God’s pleasure?

Whatever that might be, then do it. That is the ‘good work’ that God has prepared in advance for you to do. You’ve been crafted in such a way that God is honored and glorified when you do that ‘good work.’

Frederick Buechner is credited with saying that your true calling is “where the world’s great need and your deep gladness meet.”

So where is your deep gladness? And how might you use that in the world around you today?


Gracious God, let us feel your pleasure in what we do today. Give us wisdom to know what you’ve created us to do, and how you want to use us to extend your grace to the world we live in. Help us to do the good works you had in mind when you created us, and we will live each day for the glory of your name and the good of those near us. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

How’s Your Soul

“Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” (Luke 12:15).

Last week we looked briefly at a story Jesus told about a very wealthy man, a story we’ve come to know as the parable of the ‘rich fool.’

Remember: The central figure of the story – the rich man whose business grows rapidly – is not a fool because he is rich or successful. He’s a fool because he has placed his wealth at the center of his life. This isn’t a money issue. This is a heart issue that can afflict anyone, regardless of how much you have (or don’t have).

If you’ll take a moment and read Luke 12:13-21 slowly you will notice the reoccurrence of a particular word. That word in the ESV translation is ‘soul.’ The rich man sees his success and holds a conversation with his own soul, planning a life of food, drink, and leisure. When God speaks into the story, he tells this man that ‘this night your soul is required of you.’

The real drama of the story has little to do with the man’s business. The real drama unfolds in his soul – and it is to the soul that we must all pay careful attention.

Watch Out

Jesus said to be vigilant “against all kinds of greed.”

All kinds. The little Greek word used there is malleable and can shape-shift when it comes to precise translation: “all,” “every,” or “each” are all possible renderings of the word. Let’s leave it to translators to wrangle over the exact use and meaning of nominal adjectives. The implication for us is clear. Greed isn’t a simple thing. It comes in various forms, cloaked in a variety of disguises.

Be on your guard against all kinds of greed, greed in all its forms. Not just the obvious greed that shows itself in what we buy and own, not just the kind of greed that shows up on a bank statement or sits parked in our garages or hangs in our closets. The vigilance Jesus calls for requires more wisdom and discernment than that.

Watch out for all kinds of greed. Greed has its roots in the human soul, and being vigilant means paying attention to what’s happening in our own soul.

The Many Faces of Greed

Watch out for kind of greed that craves approval, and its cousin the need to prove oneself. This greed always knows the right thing to say and the right thing to do – but does it to receive praise from the people around us.

Watch out for the kind of greed that obtains one position only to start eyeing the next, always climbing. A greed for power, the need to be looked to as the authority, is often wrapped inside this greed for position.

Watch out for the kind of greed that is fed by the constant pursuit of leisure.

Watch out for the kind of greed that is fed by constantly posting tweets, forever checking to see how many people commented on or liked what you last wrote on your Facebook wall.

Watch out for the kind of greed that looks like other “deadly” sins. Be vigilant against lust and gluttony and envy – all forms of greed at their core.

Watch out for the kind of greed that doesn’t look like sin at all, but rather looks pious and devout. This greed buys book after book on prayer but never prays. Conferences and Bible studies are consumed while the neighbor you’ve never spoken to is ignored.


Yes, greed is chameleon like, hard to see against the backdrop of our own decent lives. So pay attention to your soul and be on your guard against all kinds of greed. Like many life-threatening diseases, we can have the illness while feeling perfectly fine and living a life that seems perfectly “normal.” But Jesus calls us to vigilance and reminds us that greed rarely announces itself.

How we handle our possessions is a big part of what it means to follow Jesus. What I’ve written here isn’t meant to evade the hard questions about money – how we spend it, how much we keep, how much we give, and how we easily exhaust ourselves trying to get more of it. But all those important questions are symptoms of something deeper. They reflect a condition of soul.

And now the real question: How is greed masked in your own life? Where do you detect it? And how are things with your soul?


Gracious God, make us vigilant against all kinds of greed, and in our vigilance make us truthful. Help us to be truthful with ourselves, willing to see the places in our lives where geed hides and disguises itself as something good and admirable. Above all, help us to be truthful with you, ever ready to confess and repent by the power of your Spirit in us. Amen.