What Sets Us FreeDo you ever try to earn points with God?
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1 Corinthians 15:1
Whatever I am now, it is all because God poured
out His special favor on me. . . . For I have worked harder than any
of the other apostles; yet it was not I but God who
was working thorough me (v.10).
My dad is a hard-working man. He works 6
days a week. During his off-days, he’s always
tinkering with something in the house—fixing
the fan or cleaning something. Colleagues of mine who
also know my dad have remarked that being industrious is
a trait that runs in my family. Is diligence an inborn trait—
are some people born lazy while others are naturally
hard-working? Why do some people work hard?
In 1 Corinthians 15:10, the apostle Paul says, “I have
worked harder than any of the other apostles.” It’s true.
Paul worked very hard. We read about how hard he
labored in 2 Corinthians 11:23-27. So what motivated
him? We read: “But whatever I am now, it is all because
God poured out His special favor on me—and not
without results” (1 Corinthians 15:10).
Despite Paul’s being a persecutor of the church, Jesus
appeared to him and called him into His service. Paul’s
awareness of God’s extraordinary special favor to him
resulted in an extraordinary response. He recognized
who he was meant to be—an apostle of Christ. This was
all because of God’s grace—the undeserved expression
of His kindness.
But Paul didn’t attempt to repay the divine grace shown
to him with hard work, nor did he try to soothe his guilty
conscience. He worked hard because he didn’t want the grace shown to him to
go to waste. As Paul worked hard, he discovered this amazing reality: “Yet it
was not I but God who was working through me by His grace” (v.10). Eugene
Peterson paraphrases Paul’s words this way, “Even then, my work didn’t amount
to all that much. It was God giving me the work to do, God giving me the
energy to do it” (The Message).
As recipients of His grace, may we work hard to make God’s grace known!
What motivates you to work hard—reputation, man’s approval, or
God’s grace? How can you better present God’s grace to others?
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