Monday, October 08, 2012

1st Clement 33 - Shall we be slothful?

Understanding that our election was not based on anything we had done, Clement rhetorically asks a question that some might be asking themselves.
"What shall we do, then, brethren? Shall we become slothful in well-doing, and cease from the practice of love?" (1 Clement 33)
This is similar to the question his friend Paul asked earlier, "Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace?" (Romans 6:15) and Paul's answer, "May it never be!" is the same answer that Clement gives us,
"God forbid that any such course should be followed by us! But rather let us hasten with all energy and readiness of mind to perform every good work." (1 Clement 33)
Seeing that our election was based on God's grace and not on our own righteousness or good works, how much more should we be dedicated to good works that, through our good works, we might "adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect. (Titus 2:10)? Our motivation towards good works should no longer be to obtain God's love and acceptance but rather to show forth the love and acceptance we have freely received from God and to give that love and acceptance to others through good works done in His name. Our free election in God should cause us to delight in freely doing good to others. Clement reminds us,
"But rather let us hasten with all energy and readiness of mind to perform every good work. For the Creator and Lord of all Himself rejoices in His works." (1 Clement 33)
When he says that God delights in His works, he is not referring here to God delighting in the finished product of His works alone, but also in the process of doing the work itself.
For by His infinitely great power He established the heavens, and by His incomprehensible wisdom He adorned them. He also divided the earth from the water which surrounds it, and fixed it upon the immoveable foundation of His own will. The animals also which are upon it He commanded by His own word into existence. So likewise, when He had formed the sea, and the living creatures which are in it, He enclosed them [within their proper bounds] by His own power. (1 Clement 33)
Clement also reminds us that we too are the result of God's work, the highest of His handiwork.

"Above all, with His holy and undefiled hands He formed man, the most excellent [of His creatures], and truly great through the understanding given him— the express likeness of His own image. For thus says God: 'Let us make man in Our image, and after Our likeness. So God made man; male and female He created them.' " (1 Clement 33)
We are His workmanship, created and formed by His holy and undefined hands, created in perfection and in His image and likeness. We were not created as an after thought, nor created by some unclean or unholy process, rather we were created to express and carry His very image and likeness. Since we have been made in His image and likeness, so should we be in our work; not given over to slothfulness, but performing it with all readiness and willingness.
"We see, then, how all righteous men have been adorned with good works, and how the Lord Himself, adorning Himself with His works, rejoiced. Having therefore such an example, let us without delay accede to His will, and let us work the work of righteousness with our whole strength." (1 Clement 33)
Paul tells us that we have been "created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. " (Ephesians 2:10) Therefore, let us not be slothful in doing good to others even as God is not slothful in doing good to us.

David Robison

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