"who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds. These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you." (Titus 2:14-15)When we shop for something, we want the best, the highest quality, and the most refined of whatever we are looking for... at least as compared to the funds we have to spend! However, when God came looking for a people, instead of picking the best, He sought the lowly and the humble. "For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God." (1 Corinthians 1:26-29)
Religion teaches us that we must be the best if we are to be selected by God, but grace teaches us that we are the best because we have been selected. Religion teaches us that we must be worthy to be chosen, but grace teaches us that, now that we have been chosen, we should endeavor to live lives worthy of God's choice. God chose us, not because we were worthy, the best, or deserving, but because He loved us while we were yet unworthy, base, and undeserving. "For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. " (Romans 5:6-8) And in His death He purchased us for Himself that we might be His.
In purchasing us, God's goal is to change us into the image of His own Son. However, note that this purification is something the God does for us and within us. "But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth." (2 Thessalonians 2:13) What we could not do, God has done for us, both in our salvation and our sanctification. God is at work within us to change us, to purify us, and to conform us into His image. Truly it is as the scripture says, "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them." (Ephesians 2:10) In this scripture and in the words of Paul to Titus, the end result is that we might be a people zealous for good works. "Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share." (1 Timothy 6:18)
The exact nature and enumeration of these "good works" are never fully defined in scripture because they do not emanate from some law or code of conduct but rather they flow from our life with Christ, or more exactly, from His life within us. "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven." (Matthew 5:16) Jesus' life was the light of man and it is this same life that dwells within us and this same light that shines through us. Every time the life of Christ extends through us to the benefit of others, God's good works are shown and the Father is glorified. We have the ability to extend the Kingdom of God to others through our goodness to others; extending the love of God through our love for others. God saved us and cleansed us for this very purpose, that we might be the vessels for His good works to a world desperately in need of some good. Out of love for Christ and love for mankind, let us become zealous for good works.