Dropping the ball seems to be my tendency this month.
My mind must be elsewhere because certain deadlines and due dates have completely eluded me (I ask myself, "Kristen, where is your brain?"). Thankfully, I am surrounded by many people who love the Lord, who are willing to extend me grace during these times of...well...being human.
Grace is a miracle. Let me specify, God's grace is a miracle. It is because of His grace that we have a new identity in Christ. That believers, who are sinners by nature, are able to become the righteousness of Christ. All of our darkest sins get washed away and we have the hope of eternal glory to look forward to someday. All because of grace. An absolute miracle.
As I read 1 Corinthians 15 this morning, some important truths about God's grace stood out to me. If you have ever found yourself wanting a deeper understanding of grace (that's me, for sure), then Paul's words here will bless you - and hopefully soften your heart to the miracle that grace is.
Paul aims to remind us of the gospel in this passage; for only in the full extent of the gospel can the miracle of grace be understood. And how often we need the reminder!
15 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
He reminds us of Christ's death for our sins, His burial, His resurrection, His appearing to the disciples and to five hundred witnesses, then to all the apostles. Lastly, Paul tells us how Christ appeared also to himself:
9 For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 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 that is with me. 11 Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.
From these final verses, we glean four truths about God's miracle of grace:
ONE: It is God's grace that makes us who we are in Christ. Paul was Saul, the persecutor of Christians, before Christ transformed him by saving grace through faith. His identity is now in Christ, but this change was not his own doing, or by his own efforts! It was God's miraculous grace that claimed him. How can you apply this to your own story? How has grace transformed your identity?
TWO: God's grace can be believed in vain. "In vain" means "without effect or avail; to no purpose." Paul reminds us that it is possible for grace to go unapplied to our lives--and what an unfortunate thing that would be! Christ gave His very life that we would be saved. May grace repurpose our lives as we submit to God's lordship and walk by faith. May it free us to live in the light of our new identity in Christ, holy, blameless and set apart for His purposes.
THREE: God's grace compels us away from sin, and toward godliness. Paul tells us that he "worked harder than any of [the apostles]"--but this is not a personal boast. He says that it was the grace of God that compelled his ministry. So then, grace motivates us by the Spirit at work within us to live holy lives that are zealous for good works (and what a wide range of good works there are--from outward acts to inward change, which are all precious to God).
FOUR: We are instruments of God's grace. Paul says finally that the Corinthians believed as a result of the ministry of preaching, whether by his work or the apostles'. How is God using you as an instrument of His grace?
Today, meditate on His miracle of grace. Live in its freedom. And praise Him for it!
Gracious Father, Thank you for grace. Where would I be without it? Thank You for sending Christ to save me, that I am what I am because of grace. Please work out Your grace in my life, as I trust You each moment.
[photo credit: Shannon Lee Miller]