Today we read one of the most important chapters in the Bible – 1 Corinthians 15. Many verses jump out inviting our meditation. The one we have chosen to concentrate on is verse 10. Paul laments on his unworthiness, but then says, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God”.
We hear the word grace used a lot in Christian circles. There are popular hymns about “amazing” grace and how the Lord has “saved a wretch like me”. Careful Bible readers appreciate “the wonder of his grace”. But we need to reflect on the example of Paul and his total commitment to his Lord to see that “his grace toward me was not in vain”.
No one can earn salvation. So by accepting His grace, what kind of motivation is this creating in me? Can it be that in these last days His grace is taken for granted and it fails to motivate me, meaning I fail to follow the example of Paul?
Our commitment is seen in all the small things we do (or do not) every day. Paul urged his companions in this. In 2 Corinthians 8 he “urged Titus that as he had started, so he should complete among you this act of grace”. That “act of grace” was “taking part in the relief of the saints” who were in “extreme poverty” (verses 2,4). Paul tells the Corinthians, “… you excel in everything – in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you – see that you excel in this act of grace also” (verses 6,7).
Our acceptance of the grace of God should change us, as it did Paul, so that we show grace toward others in every situation. Then our Lord’s grace toward us is “not in vain”. If we have previously been a “wretch” this change should be extremely evident.
The challenge is in the many “small things” we do every day. Recall Naaman being angry that he had not been asked to do some great thing to be cured of his leprosy. God’s grace toward us is not in vain if we constantly do many small things in His service.