The focus of our current devotional series is on the wonderful, matchless grace of Jesus. It is, indeed, broader than the scope of your transgressions and far greater than all your sin and shame. As the song states, this amazing grace has a sweet sound to it!
So, how does our Scripture reading for today fit into such a study on grace? Among many, this chapter is known as the “resurrection chapter.” The specific portion you read focused on the essence of the gospel. It reminds us that Christ…
- Died for sins
- Was buried
- Was raised on the third day
- Was seen by many
Paul listed himself as one of the eyewitnesses of Christ’s resurrection. In fact, part of the outcome of that Damascus Road encounter (Acts 9:1-19) was his own commissioning as an apostle who would “proclaim [Christ’s] name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel.” (Acts 9:15) Even though Paul was honored by his new title and responsibilities as a “sent one” (close to the literal meaning of “apostle”), he never forgot his past. He considered himself unworthy of his calling because of the way he had previously persecuted God’s people.
Although your story is different, the principles are the same. You too have a past that has made you unworthy, but you have a calling as one sent in the name of Jesus.
Verse 10 points to the grace that makes all of that possible.
“But by the grace of God I am what I am…” It was God’s grace that allowed Saul to become Paul, an antagonist to become an apostle, one who used to persecute the people to become one called to perpetuate the message. Don’t forget…it is God’s grace that prevents your past from defining you.
“…and his grace to me was not without effect.” Paul is saying that he took his new title and calling seriously. He did not accept the cleansing and reject the calling. Don’t forget that God’s grace doesn’t just cleanse your past from sin. It also calls you to a present life characterized by mission and ministry.
“No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.” Paul gave his all for the call. But even that was not to his credit. It was a mark of God’s grace. Don’t forget…even that which you offer in response to God is made possible by His grace.