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Before and After

March 16, 2017

“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

I’m sure that you’ve seen those before and after pictures in ads for diet pills. The before picture always features some tremendously out-of-shape obese guy. The after picture then shows him looking trim, sculpted, and usually holding out the waistband of his old pants, which are now many sizes too big. The ad then tells the story about how this particular diet plan melted off the pounds in record time.

Whether or not you believe those amazing testimonials, there is an even more amazing before and after picture that is not only believable but available as well. It’s the picture of your life before and after Jesus.

The before picture would show how purposeless, sometimes burdened, often confused, searching, and sinful your life really was. The Bible is pretty clear about our condition before we met Jesus. It describes us as being lost, broken, guilty, condemned, and even “enemies” of God (Col. 1:21).

But then we met Him. Realizing that He wasn’t chasing us down with the sheriff’s posse to lock us up for our sin, we repentantly responded to His amazing offer of mercy and grace. Thanks to Jesus, our before picture now lays in pieces amidst the rubble of our past lives, and we have the privilege of stepping up to have our after snapshot taken.

But, I wonder—what would that picture look like?

Ephesians 2:10 describes the after picture in a simple, yet profound way. Paul writes that as a result of being saved by His grace, “We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus.” God is the new designer for our lives—a kind of divine personal trainer! And what does He desire to make our lives look like the after picture? Our text goes on to say that we have been “created in Christ Jesus to do good works.”

When Scripture talks about “good works,” it’s a lot more than going to church every Sunday and tithing. Good works are actions that reflect God’s mercy, grace, compassion, and righteousness. It’s the action of loving others, even when they aren’t all that loveable; forgiving; reaching out to the poor and disadvantaged; caring for the lost and the losers; being patient and tolerant with the faults and failures of others; serving the needs of others without clamoring for applause; providing the fruits of righteousness for those around us to be blessed by.

Here’s a good way to think of it. Our after picture ought to be a duplicate picture of the good works that God has so generously showered on us. In fact, His good works in our lives are like a workout seminar on how to treat and respond to others.

When I see the after pictures in diet ads, I often wonder what the person looks like now. Believe me, I know what it’s like to trim down only to lose sight of the goal and chub back up again. So, let’s not lose sight of the goal.

You’ve been saved to be an ad for the glory of God’s goodness in your life and His good work through you to the lives of others. So what’s your after picture looking like today? Shed the excess fat of your past and let His glory show!

YOUR JOURNEY…

  • What does the before picture of your life look like, before you met Jesus? Take some time to thank Him for putting you on the program of His saving grace! If you’re not on the program yet, what are you waiting for?
  • How much of that excess weight are you still carrying?
  • Think of three ways that you can let the Personal Trainer of your soul produce good works through you. Be specific. Who will be the recipient? What will the “good work” look like?
  • What is it about your life that makes you start bulking up again? Not staying in the Word? Neglecting prayer? Difficult people and difficult circumstances? Make a commitment to get back on the program today!