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You're Only Human Study Guide 3: Am I Doing Enough?

Community Group Study Guide — Am I Doing Enough?
Ephesians 2:8-10

Study Information:
Have you ever felt the feeling of having an unbearable amount of work to do? Or maybe you feel some pressure to hustle and get more done. It could be that you failed at something you care about like work, a hobby or in your parenting and you wonder if you’re doing a good enough job. Many of us struggle with placing a burden on ourselves based on what we do. 

In this series we’re focusing on how God created us with limits so we’d depend on him and find our joy in him. Every time we bump up against one of our limits we are reminded of our limitless God. God created us to work, sleep and rest before sin entered the world. But sin’s presence creates a struggle for many of us to find our value in our activity or to have a disordered relationship with our doing. Sure, some of us are slackers and rebel against the idea of productive and performance, but our modern culture often pushes us to think of ourselves in terms of usefulness and productivity. Part of being human is the need to rest and take a break. We come to the limits of our human strength and we can only exert maximum effort for so long before we collapse.  God does not have that problem, he is infinite and all powerful and he does not “need” any of the work we can do to accomplish his purposes. Instead he relates to us by his grace and calls us to walk in the good works he has planned before hand. Are you doing enough? You can’t, and that is kind of the point. 

Am I Doing Enough?
It seems like there is always more to be done. Long commutes and exhausting hours plus activities with kids, relationship needs and work to be done around the house means you probably have a lot going on. The digital revolution means and work from home means you could take a meeting in your pajamas, but also means that you are now assaulted by relentless emails, Slack messages and meeting requests. Some of us can never really clock out of our jobs.  
There is always more to do at home too. Have you ever been frustrated that there is always one more load of laundry or dishes to be done, meals to prep and stuff to repair? These are all items that need to be maintained, but it feels a little like being on a hamster wheel; you run but never really arrive.

Some of us are addicted to the busyness whether we like it or not. So, we fool ourselves into thinking if we had just more time, energy, ability and efficiency then we can get it all done. But, what if getting it all done is missing the point?

Let’s look at Ephesians 2:8-10 to learn what Paul has to say about the good works God has prepared for us to walk in. 

God’s Grace
Ephesians 2:8-9
One of the great things about following Jesus is that God does not relate to us based on our deserving or our earning. The concept of “grace” is God’s unearned favor and blessing. Notice how Paul wrote in Ephesians that it is a gift. Paul extrapolates on this saying that if our salvation was based on our works then we’d be able to boast about it. One of the great truths about God being infinite, limitless and self existent is that we cannot change God. God relates to us out of his infinite love and not based on how much we can do to earn his favor. If we could change God’s heart towards us based on what we do, then we would be in control of God. Many religions in our world emphasize how we can earn God’s favor through religious works, but faith in Christ tells us that we were not deserving but God extended his kindness to us because of his grace. 

It is foundational to our faith to understand that God relates to us by his grace and not by our earning or merit. 

His Workmanship
Ephesians 2:10a
Paul began Ephesians 2:1-3 by describing our depravity… specifically that every area of our life has been impacted by sin and that we were dead in our trespasses and thus unable to save ourselves. Paul shifted his tone in Ephesians 2:10 to describe how we are redeemed and made new in Christ. We are God’s workmanship. This word “workmanship” is the Greek word Poiema, which is where we get our english word “poem.” It is a term used to describe beauty and art. The only other place it is used in the New Testament is in Romans 1:20 to describe how what God has made (Poiema) testifies to his power. Being a new creation means that we are remade in such a way that we testify to God’s beauty and power. We do not need our activity to give us meaning or worth because we already have that in Christ. More than that we have a purpose with our lives, to reflect God’s beauty and power as we live out our faith in Christ. 

Walking in Good Works
Ephesians 2:10b
How do we respond to God’s grace and being made new in Christ? Paul wrote that we should walk in the works God prepared beforehand. Paul does not have modern jobs or hobbies in mind, rather he is thinking of Christlike activities in our day to day lives that reflect God’s beauty and help us grow in righteousness. What this means is that anything that helps us grow in Christ and reflect God to the world is pre-planned by God for us to walk in. Your “normal” day is anything but mundane or ordinary, rather your day is filled with good works God planned in advance. This means that opportunities for you to fight the sin of impatience, develop relationships with people outside the church, to serve in small ways, to design new technology or write code, or to craft and create and clean… all these things are planned out by God for us to walk in a way that reflects his beauty and goodness to the world. It is why Paul can write in Colossians 3:23, “whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.” Our activity has divine purpose and we can work to honor God rather than earn his favor. 

Pursuing Rest
Since God interacts with us by grace and since we do not need to look to our work to give us worth, we are free to sleep and take a day off… we are free to rest. What if God has designed things in such a way that you cannot get everything done and you need to leave something each day in his hands? When we go to sleep and take a day off from our work, we are practically telling God that we trust him to run the world and that we do not need to be in control of it all. We read in the gospels of Jesus withdrawing from the crowds to go to a desolate place and pray. If Jesus did that maybe it would be a good idea for us too. Historically Jews and Christians were unique in their practice of the Sabbath where people would take a day to rest and worship and remind themselves of God’s control over all things. You may feel the pressure of “am I doing enough?” and the answer is, “you can’t and that is kind of the point.” God does not interact with based on our usefulness or productivity, instead he gives his grace and invites us to belong to him. You can rest and take a step back form the hustle culture and pace of the Bay Area, knowing that God holds all things together. 

At your community group:

Take 15-20 minutes to share about how God has been at work in your life, prayer concerns and pray for one another.

How did God speak to you through the scripture and the sermon this week? 

Discussion Questions:

Do you ever feel burdened by the question of “am I doing enough?” What times and situations do you feel that pressure?

What are some reasons we can be tempted to look to our activities to find our worth?

Read Ephesians 2:10 and Romans 1:20. What does Poiema communicate about God’s purpose in making us new?  (Note: Poiema is “workmanship” in Ephesians 2:10, and “made” in Romans 1:20) 

What barriers to do you face when it comes to seeing God’s divine intent in your day to day life and taking time off with rest? What do you feel called to put into practice this next week?