Here’s one more quote from E. K. Simpson’s Ephesians Commentary [The New International Commentary on the New Testament (older version)] First, Ephesians 2:10:
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
When the Lord has worked on us, He works by us, along the line of our talents and circumstances; for the Divine Craftsman empowers and employs human effort. Most vocations are not so much chosen as committed to the parties concerned. “The situation of a man”, wrote Burke, “is the main preceptor of duty”: and that situation is not the outcome of chance, but the appointment of the Disposer of all things. Good works are never to be relied on as items placed to our credit in the running account with our supreme Creditor; yet they are indispensable testifications of love and gratitude to an untold Benefactor and Saviour. “It is not against works that we contend”, said Luther, after trying both plans, salvation by dint of hard labour and then by faith, “but against trust in works”, a very different affair.
By nature we are would-be autocrats, persons of quality and standing; but new creatures in Christ Jesus ought to carry the mint-mark of humility. They should be content to serve their generation according to the will of God, to rank as trees of the Lord’s planting, bearing fruit unto Him. A “self-made man” is almost inevitably badly made, a jerry-built sample of overweening self-esteem; but when our Maker recasts us in His own image we are assimilated to the primeval pattern of manhood, no longer intent on steering our vessel for ourselves, but willing to will and do God’s good pleasure even at the expense of our own wills.
Recently I’ve heard two young women say that they are in a holding pattern, so to speak, waiting to find out what it is God wants them to do, as if God’s will for their lives is a mysterious plan they are required to discover. Their answer is in the first paragraph of this quote. God is the one who arranges all our circumstances; our present situations are God’s appointments to us. The good works God prepared beforehand for us are performed daily when we fulfill our duties in whatever circumstances he presents to us.