You: A Thing of Beauty, A Joy to Behold Ephesians 2:8-10 8/6/00

Jesus Christ loves beauty. Therefore, He loves
you. Don’t discount that statement and thereby
diminish your own self-worth. Our beloved Lord is
identified as the creator of all things.

“For by Him all things were created that are in
heaven and that are on earth… All things were
created through Him and for Him… in Him all things
consist….” (Colossians 1: 6, 17).

In considering the enormity of “all things”
don’t forget one thing —- you. You are the product
of His creative genius and love.

Having just completed a 22-day tour of much of
Europe my eyes have feasted on beauty. Some of the
architectural beauty of old world workmanship leaves
one in open mouth amazement. The creative genius
that built Venice along enchanting canals is
dumbfounding. Edifices such as the Doge Palace, the
Cathedral of Milan, and the many castles perched on
mountain peaks excites the imagination. Their beauty
is remarkable.

The paintings of Da Vinci, Chotto, and
Michelangelo stretch ones appreciation for the skill
of the artists.

Even greater beauty is to be seen. From the
“Top of Europe,” the Jungfrau, one can look out on
the Eiger and other massive peaks of the Alps.

Driving across the Alps four times in two weeks left
me with an even greater appreciation of their
beauty. The only sounds heard from persons on the
bus were oohs, ahs, and deep sighs. An occasional
expression of awe could occasionally be heard such
as: “Wow! Look at that!” After crossing one of my
young friends commented, “I have heard people speak
of something being breath taking but that is the
first time I have experienced it.”

When our Lord, the Creator, built them He did a
marvelous work.

I had to come home to see one of the most
beautiful things in the world. I looked in the
mirror and there it was —- the wonderful me. Wait
a minute, before you brand that as an egotistical
statement. Listen to the message now in progress and
go look in the mirror and you too will be able to
say of yourself, “I am one of the most beautiful
things in the world.” You have the potential of
greater beauty than magnificent cathedrals, castles,
and mountains. Scripture says, “You are fearfully
and wonderfully made.”

You are a work in progress and perhaps the
greatest beauty is yet to be seen.

If the Holy Spirit is successful in doing in
your life what He wants to through this message you
will exit this hour with greater understanding of
yourself and fuller appreciation for the Creator and
His creative work in progress in you.

Jesus said, “Let your light so shine before
men, that they may see your good works and glorify
your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

Christ has called none of us to be secret
disciples. We are called and commissioned to live
and work in such a way that our influence for Him
can be seen and felt.

Systems of religion have been developed around
the little word “works.” Actually there are only two
systems of religious faith. One is that salvation is
obtained by doing good works. The other is that we
are saved by the good work done by Jesus Christ on
our behalf.

Christianity is the one faith not based on a
system of good works. Even under the umbrella of
Christianity there are some denominations that have
not grasped this. Many who lean toward the Christian
faith still labor under the confusing concept they
have to do something to merit God’s favor.

We are not saved BY works but we are saved TO work.

Belief that salvation is by works makes God and
man both look bad.

It makes man look bad because it presents us as
doing everything we do in order to try to get
something for doing it. It robs us of the simple joy
of doing good works in Christ’s name out of
uninhibited joy for what He has done for us.

It makes God look bad because it represents Him
as a God who can be bought off or in effect bribed.

It makes Him appear as though He is an overlord who
awaits payoffs.

New life doesn’t result OUT OF good works but
it results IN good works.

No text brings the issue into clearer focus than Ephesians 2: 8 – 10.

I. THE CREATOR’S PLAN “We are His workmanship…”

The word “workmanship” translates the Greek
POIEMA. In that you can hear our English word poem.
From where does a poem come? It comes from the mind
of the poet.

We hear much today about self-esteem. It is a
beautiful school of thought and needs to be
addressed by Christians. Actually it can only be
addressed properly and fully from a Biblical
viewpoint. You have a right to self-esteem because
of this verse. As the poem comes from the mind of
the poet, so you are a product of the mind of the
loving God. You are a miraculous product of His thought.

I don’t understand why He made me like this.

Perhaps you have wondered the same about yourself. I
would have done me a little differently. However, I
gladly defer all design work to Him in light of two
things. He is wiser than I and knows what is best.

He is more loving than I and always does the best.

The most jarring TV commercial last Fall didn’t
say a word. It simply shows a series of people who
have one thing in common – a nasty injury or scar.
There’s a cowboy with a huge scar around eye, and
something wrong with the eye itself; a fellow with a
bulbous cauliflower ear; another with horribly
callused feet. There’s no explanation at all, simply
the Nike swoosh and “Just Do It.”

The ad has been analyzed and criticized widely
as being incomprehensible and extreme. But the key
to the controversial commercial lies in the
background music. Joe Cocker sings, “You are so
beautiful…to me.”

To these athletes – the wrestler with the
cauliflower ear, the surfer with a shark bite, the
bull rider blind in one eye – their injuries are
beauty marks. And to their fans, these athletes are
beautiful because of their scars. “Beauty is in the
eye of the beholder,” says Mike Folino, the ad’s

God’s grace is just as jarring and
controversial. Our beauty is found not in us, but in
him. He looks down at us – inured, blind, and
scarred – and sings, “You are so beautiful…to me.”

But wait, there is more to come. We have a
tendency to think of the physical us. He is

ambitious to create character. It is our true self

He is perpetually in the process of creating.

The village of Oberammergau in Germany is known

as the home of woodcarvers. These craftsmen are

schooled and skilled in their craft. My wife and I

added to our collection of nativities by purchasing

a lovely one piece depiction of Mary, Joseph, and

the baby Jesus. This lovely work of art was once a

part of a tree growing in the deep forest on a

lonely mountain side. At one point it was a

shapeless block of wood lying on the woodcarvers

floor. Then on his lathe he began to chip away on

it. Eventually tiny tools were used to finish the

craftsman creation.

If that wood had mentality and the capacity to

talk, if it had the attitude we often display, at

times it could have been heard to say to the carver,

“Hey, what’s going on here? Why did you chip away

that part of me I like? Don’t you love me?”

From the moment the block of wood was seen by

the carver he had in mind what he wanted to create.

Our loving Lord is no less a craftsman and no less a

visionary with you in mind. He knows exactly what He

has in mind for you. Some of the chiseling,

grinding, chipping, and sanding may not be

understood but the Craftsman is to be trusted. He

who has you in His hand has you in His mind as well.

Today our loving Lord has you in His workshop.

He has a more beautiful you in mind. As you allow

Him to work with you, it more clearly emerges.

The fact we are in His workshop should keep us

humble. We wouldn’t be there if we were perfect. He

is always in the process of perfecting us.

Confidence in the Craftsman results in


POIEMA can be translated “masterpiece.” If you

are a Christian, you are a masterpiece of God’s

handiwork. He is in the continuous process of

conforming you to the image of Jesus Christ. To have

wholesome self-esteem you don’t need power,

position, prominence, approval of a particular

person, or a degree. All these enhancements are

admirable, however, even without them you are a

masterpiece of God.

John 15:16 should cause you dignity and give a

sense of self-worth: “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and

appointed you that you should go and bear fruit.”

Remember playing childhood games when sides had

to be chosen? Didn’t it always make you feel good to

be chosen. It meant you were approved, needed, and

wanted. Well, Christ has chosen you. That should do

something special to your self-esteem.


Christ Jesus”

When we, by faith, enter into union with

Christ, a new creature emerges. We are new creatures

in Christ. Old things pass away, ALL things become

new. A new life alien to the old life form emerges.

God wants to make you what He can contemplate

with delight. Every improvement He desires for you

brings Him joy and is for your good. Don’t forget

that last part. It IS for your good.

How this new spiritual creation comes to be is

explained in Ephesians 2: 8 & 9.

It is by grace. Grace means to give divine

favor. It means God

giving to us everything we need without us deserving

it. It means the blessing of God granted to us

without us meriting it.

We obtain this grace by faith. Some argue that

our faith is our work which merits God’s favor.

Think for a moment. When you are thirsty and

reach for a drink of water, what quenches your

thirst, your hand or the water? Your hand is only

the means of receiving the water. Our faith, which

has in it no merit, is simply the means of receiving

God’s unmerited favor.

The Lord chose one of the most common everyday

principles as the connecting point by which

salvation becomes ours. It is faith. It is a common

every day act in which we engage many times. Every

time you pop a top on a beverage can and drink from

it you are exercising faith. The public purchase and

consumption of any product is an act of faith. There

is really no such thing as a tamper-proof package.

Amusement parks are crowded with the faithful who

risk their lives on daring rides that are by no

means fail-safe. The idea of going on a blind date requires the

optimum of faith. The ultimate test of faith, from a

human vantage point, might just be marriage.

This faith that is basic to human nature is

what our Lord uses to draw us to Himself. If we can

have faith in the promises and potential of these

things, surely we can have faith in Him.

It is a gift of God. Gifts are purchased for us

by those who love us at no cost to us.

The gift of salvation, that is, a new life was

purchased as a gift for us by Christ when He

voluntarily paid the price on Calvary.

The expression “not of yourself” gives this

meaning to this passage: “this matter of being saved

by grace through faith is not of yourself” but is

the gift of God.

Faith itself is a gift of God. Therefore there

is no merit even in our faith.

This leaves no room for boasting. In self-

esteem there is no vaunted self-image. There is only

gratitude and gratification in how important we are

in God’s sight, as evidenced by what He has

done for us because we are of such worth to Him.

That is the basis of true self-esteem.

We sing, “Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe.”

That is good theology.

III. THE CREATOR’S PURPOSE “Unto good works”

Though our good works are without merit, they

are so important that God created us in order for

them to be done. They are the spontaneous result of


Sometimes there are cynics who muse about being

saved once and for all and that they can do whatever

they want thereafter. Reality is that if a person is

really saved they hunger to do whatever God wants

thereafter. There is a good test of your salvation.

Are you ambitious to do what God wants you to do?

Jesus said, “Not everyone that says unto Me,

‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter into the kingdom of

heaven; but he that does the will of My Father which

is in heaven” (Matt. 7:21).

Jesus informed us that, “In this is my Father

glorified, that you bear much fruit” (John 15:8).

As you contemplate your life’s ministry, “Let

this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.”

It was the mind of a loving and obedient servant.

Let your every thought be brought under the canopy

of that concept. Talk to yourself. Say to yourself:

Today I will think like a dynamic servant of

the Lord Jesus.

Clothes don’t make a person; thinking does.

Therefore, I will keep my thoughts open to the

will of God. God didn’t call me to a life of failure, but to

a life of success. This being so, I cannot fail as long as I

do His will, allowing Him to work in and through me,

motivating my every thought.

Because my God is a big God, I will think big with

confidence, knowing my thoughts can never be bigger

than my God.

Today I will think as the apostle Paul: “I can do all

things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil.


BE patient with God. Creation takes time. Six

days were involved in the creation of the universe. God worked

in Moses for 40 years before He could work through

him. He worked in Joseph for 13 years before He

could work through Him. David was anointed king as a

young man but he went through years of exile before

coming to the throne. Paul spent three years in the wilderness

in order that God could work on him before He could

work through Him.

The text concluded “that we should walk in

them.” That means our lifestyle should be one given

to good works.

He who created us has also prepared for us good works.

The fact He has prepared good work for you to

do means that by getting involved in doing it you

will live a life free of boredom. It is the abundant

life of which Christ spoke.

He doesn’t expect the same from all persons. He

not only allows for our diversity He designed it. A

craftsman doesn’t expect the same from all products.

Wood, metal, stone, and alloys all have different

capacities. Likewise, so do we. Therefore, don’t

compare yourself to others. In doing so, you can

find some you are better than and become

egotistical. Inevitably you will find some better

than you and this can cause depression. By comparing

yourself to what God has in mind for you, there is

true self-esteem and stability.

Have you personally experienced His work for


Are you allowing Him to work in you?

Will you, as never before, permit Him to work

through you?