What strikes me in this passage (Eph. 4:12) is the idea that we aren’t already ready for good works. We don’t come “ready-made”. Therefore we need to be made ready. That’s what the word “prepare” in verse 12 means. It’s a word that means to make ready, or to properly equip. We as Christians need to be made ready for the good works God has made ready for us (Eph. 2:10). The word is used only a couple other times in the NT. One of those times is in Matthew 4:21, where it says, “Going from there, Jesus saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets.” Before heading out on the water to do some actual fishing they had to do some necessary preparations of their nets.
I’ve been out on the pier and seen guys fishing. A lot of guys like to use nets to catch bait fish. So you’ll see guys heaving nets over the side where the net spins like a woman’s dress and opens up like a big wheel before splashing into the water. Using those nets is quite a skill. In order to make a good cast it takes not only practice throwing the net, but, the proper preparation of the net. In order to make a good cast it takes not only practice throwing the net, but, the proper preparation of the net so that it can be thrown correctly. A net with tears is no good. A net with tangles is no good. So as you watch these guys fishing on the pier you’ll see them taking a lot of time inspecting the net – making sure it isn’t tangled, that all the proper points are lined up, and that it is folded in the right way. Once all the preparation is done then they take the net and go throw it into the water. ***If there is one thing you can’t do it is simply walk over, pick up a tangled up, hairball mess of fishing net and hurl it over the edge. It won’t open up right, if at all. It will be useless, and won’t do what it’s supposed to do because it hasn’t been made ready for its work.
What are we talking about? Just like nets need to be prepared for fishing, so Christians need preparation for good works. Simply being a Christian doesn’t mean I am ready to be thrown into good works any more than being a net means I’m ready to be thrown into the water. Some attention beforehand is needed. Ephesians 2:10 says God has prepared these works for us. We need to prepare for them. Cultivating holiness in our character is what this is about. Second Timothy 2:21 says, “If a man cleanses himself from unholy and ignoble things, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.” Holiness translates into usefulness. These are holy works and they require a holy person. We can’t just show up in any ole’ condition. The tasks God has set out for His man are holy, and the man must equal the tasks.