Updated: Sep 12, 2019
Each morning as you look into the mirror, what do you see? In all honesty, most of us will focus on the imperfections and blemishes, all of the things that we perceive to be wrong with us. This perception is more than just skin deep. Is this how our creator sees us? Is this who we were created to be? Is it possible to salvage such a hot mess?
Paul answers these questions in his epistle to the Ephesians.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith- and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works, so that no one can boast. 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 (NIV)
We have been created in His image, created for a purpose and saved by grace.
We are created in His image. The Hebrew text in Genesis uses four verbs to describe the different types of creative activity which God used throughout creation. In Genesis 1:1, God divinely created the heavens and earth. The Hebrew verb bara means “made from nothing.” As we progress through creation, we see that God made the sky (1:7), the sun, moon and stars (1:16), and all animals and creatures that live on land (1:25). In these verses, the Hebrew verb asah is used and means to “produce, create, or render” from materials which were already in existence. Man was made (asah) from the dust of the earth (1:26) but, the author tells us in verse 27 that “God created (bara) man in His own image; He created him in the image of God; He created them male and female.” The context of created (bara) in verse 27 means “fashioned, shaped or produced.” How incredible to consider ourselves fashioned after God’s own image; we are His unique and authentic “Designer” production!
In Genesis chapter 2:6-7, man was formed (yatsar) or “fashioned” from the dust of the earth and life breathed into him by God, the creator. The Hebrew verb yatsar, although similar to bara, is used more specifically to describe a skilled potter or artisan molding or shaping their medium into a masterfully created finished product which the artist created for an intended function or purpose. Consider a potter making a pitcher, a vessel designed and intended to hold and pour liquid with controlled directional flow or a metalworker forging steel into a sword or knife intended for a specific purpose.
Paul reminds us in Ephesians that we are His handiwork! We are each an original work of art created by the very hands of the most high God, the master creator. We are handmade, not mass produced! We are all unique, but yet all created in His perfect image!
Interestingly, in Genesis 2:22, a fourth Hebrew verb is used to describe how woman was made (banah) or “built with careful planning.” We have been meticulously designed and God has created detailed blueprints for each of our lives. These blueprints were created long before we were even in existence.
In the Psalms, David marveled at God’s handiwork and the plan God had for his life even before he was conceived:
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother‘s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
Psalm 139:13-16 (NIV)
We are created for a purpose. God began the plan for each of our lives before we were even conceived. Plans are never unintentional; there is always a goal, end result or final destination that we want to achieve. Blueprints provide the detailed plan for a building and often consist of numerous layers for each aspect of the infrastructure. Imagine how complex the blueprints for each of us must be. If God so meticulously created us with a plan, He most certainly created us for a purpose!
We have each been created with an anointing and calling on our lives. Through the trails of life, we may not always be able to clearly see the plan or the purpose that He has established for us. We are not called to live our lives in fear, anxiety or devastation. In Jeremiah, we are reminded of God’s promise of prosperity and hope:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
Paul tells us in Ephesians 2:10 that we have been created “to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” The good works are what we are called to do, our anointed purpose. Our good works are not to be performed for self-edification and cannot earn our salvation. We can only be saved through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Our purpose, or good works, serve as a testimony and witness of the greatness and glory of God, that others may come to know Him.
We are saved by grace. You might be thinking to yourself, this all sounds great and wonderful…we’ve been created in His image…created for a purpose…but this isn’t what I see reflected in the mirror of my life. Maybe you’ve lost hope, feeling that your life is so far off course that it can’t be salvaged.
Even the best laid plan is rarely executed without a hitch, and the plan for our lives is no different. God planned for our flaws, failures and shortcomings. Thank goodness, God is not finished with us! The need for a plan indicates that there is a process that will be experienced over the course of time.
Time…requires…patience!!! How often do we lose patience with God as we face the storms and trials in our lives? When this happens, we often feel the need to take control of the plan for ourselves.
As God is gracefully painting the story of our lives stroke by stroke, we grab the brush and help Him move the process along. You might even bypass the brush and head straight for the paint and start a little finger painting! When we stop long enough to step back and change perspective, we realize what a mess we have created of our lives! Have we ruined the masterpiece that God was creating? Can it be restored?
My family loves to paint ceramic pottery on vacation in Cancún. Typically, there are simple designs drawn on the piece to use as guidelines to paint. It never fails. We paint outside the lines or use the wrong color! It must be ruined!!! Not at all! Paint is a forgiving medium. Mistakes can be painted over and made new! The mistakes are never planned and they come in all shapes and sizes, but they become a part of what makes that piece so special! Once the pieces are painted, they are returned to a masterful artist to add beautiful details and a shiny glaze. It never ceases to amaze me the masterpieces that are created, regardless of the skill level of the artist, once it is handed over to the master to refine!
God is the master creator and artist in your life and there is no mistake to big that He cannot restore! When we surrender the brush back into the hand of the Master, He brushes over our mistakes with the blood of Jesus Christ! The blood that Jesus sacrificed for us covers all our sins and through Him we are made new!
The text in Ephesians reminds us that we cannot earn our salvation through good works, but it is a “Gift from God.” Grace is receiving something which is not deserved. Salvation is part of God’s plan for all mankind, that we will be restored and made new. We, though undeserving, have been saved by grace through Jesus Christ.
Each time you look in the mirror, look beyond the flaws and imperfections that the enemy magnifies. May you know full well that God is skillfully creating you according to His intricate plan! You are created on purpose and for a purpose! You are a one of a kind masterpiece, saved by grace through the blood of Jesus Christ, commissioned for the glory of God!