Have you ever thought about all the things that the Lord has done for you? Have you ever looked back on your life before you came to know Christ Jesus? I found myself doing that this morning, and pondering on the grace of God. You see, there are many times that I become discouraged because of something that I think, or say and do, or because of something someone says or does. I start to get down on myself. I am my own worst critic. Sometimes I get so upset with myself that I get into a downward spiral, and the Lord has to catch me in the net of His word. I was on my way down this morning when the Lord opened His net and caught me in 1 Corinthians 15:10.
Paul is writing to the Corinthians about grace, and how it has been given to him. (I needed a refresher course in grace this morning.) Paul stated that, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I but the grace of God which was with me.” I can relate to Paul on many levels. He carried in his heart the sorrow for what he had done before knowing the Lord, he had persecuted the church, stood and held the cloaks of those who stoned Phillip (the first Martyr for Christ) to death, and he went from being on fire for the destruction of the church to being on fire for the gospel of Jesus Christ. Because of Paul, we have two-thirds of a New Testament to learn and grow by.
Paul understood the need and the importance of grace in his life, and today, I was reminded of that same grace that was given to me. You see, I have a tendency to let what other say or don’t say affect me. I go from having a heart to do the Lord’s will to having a heart affected by someone who disagrees with the way I do things. But as I was reading this passage of scripture, I realized that Paul made no excuses for who he was. He was Paul, an apostle, and if people didn’t agree with it or like the fact then they needed to take that up with God, because it was God who ordained him to minister to the gentiles, and it was God who called him to go out and preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. It was the grace of God that gave Paul the authority to do what God had clearly called him to do.
If you are in ministry, or if you are in a career, you are there because God has placed you there. Those of us in a leadership role (whether within the church or at our jobs) will always have those that fight against it and try to usurp the authority given to you. But we need to rely on and trust that God knew what He was doing when He put us where we are. When I looked up the context of this scripture and what it meant, I saw that “I am what I am” means, that I am here where I am, I exist because of, I am what I am, I am who I am because of the grace of God in me and through me. Paul made no excuses, and neither should we.
Paul goes on to say that the grace which was given him “was not in vain”. Paul is basically saying that the grace that he has is a continual grace and that it is not void or lacking in result. The grace of God that has been given to us is a daily dose of grace. It keeps on coming. If we have been given a ministry or a role in our church, we have been placed there by God and He gives us the grace (favor, joy and delight) to do what He is asking us to do.
One statement that stuck out at me was, “Grace is not only the power that moves the heart of God in its compassion toward us, when He acquits and accepts the sinner and makes him a child, but is equally the power that moves the heart of the saint, and provides it each moment with just the disposition and the power which it needs to love God and do His will.” (Reformation Study Bible) We need not make excuses for the grace of God that has been and continues to be given to us. Our labor and our service is a result of that grace. If God has placed you in a specific role in life, or in a specific job, or a leadership role within your church- it is God that has put you there, and no man can tear that away from you. When we forget that what we have is because of the Grace of God, we will find ourselves seeking to please everyone around us and not God.
The grace that was given to me to be in ministry was from God, and that grace works in me a great desire to want to please Him and Him alone. It is by His grace, because of His grace and through His grace that I am what I am, and that I do what I do. It is not I who work, but it is the grace of God in me and through me to the glory of God the Father. Paul understood this grace and he too was under scrutiny by those that knew who he was before. But it was the grace of God that saved Paul, and me, and you. You are who you are and where you are because God has put you there. Do not try to fit to what others desire, but seek to please and to live as God gives you the grace to do so.
Andrew Murray writes, “As we see that grace is literally and absolutely to do all in us, so that all our acting’s are the showing forth of grace in us, we shall consent to live the life of faith- a life which, in every moment, everything is expected from God.” You are who you are because of the grace of God, and by His grace you are given everything you need on a daily basis to do what He has predestined for you to do. Do not make excuses for who you are in Christ. We are who we are because of the grace of God which lives and moves in us, to Him be all the glory, forever and ever. Amen.