May 14, 2020 – Thursday
1 Corinthians 15:9-11 NIV
9 For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve 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 to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.
11 Whether, then, it is I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.
Quite a change up here where Paul writes of when he was persecuting the church. We might wonder how and when this was occurring, but we only have to turn to Acts 8 to find out. This chapter of Acts begins with Saul’s approval of the stoning to death of Stephen And Saul approved of their killing him. Then to show how bad it got we have the rest of verse one through verse three On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. 2 Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. 3 But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off both men and women and put them in prison.
Still, Paul’s message here to the Corinthians is about the grace of God and the impact God’s grace had upon him. All leading to the conclusion whether it is Paul or any of the apostles, it is the grace of God that they preach and what they, the Corinthians believed.
This is a great and incredible message in a very few verses. Anyone, even one who had persecuted the church, could receive the grace of God and be completely changed. So many believe they are not worthy of the grace offered through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. And they are correct and wrong at the same time. How can that be you ask? They are correct in that they do not deserve such grace and they are wrong because no one, not one, deserved the grace they received. After all, grace by definition is undeserved merit.
None of us who have accepted God’s grace deserved it. Something we sometimes forget and start to think we are better than others. Instead we should know the only thing that makes us different from those who are unsaved is that we have accepted the free undeserved gift of grace. We have been forgiven for our sins by our Heavenly Father due to Jesus taking on our sins, paying the price for them on the cross at Calvary. It is important to keep in mind we were no more deserving than anyone else. Paul makes this clear by stating he was one who persecuted the church of God. Yet he was granted grace.
When we are granted grace what is expected of us? Grace comes through undeserved forgiveness and our repentance. John the Baptist says we are to Produce fruit in keeping with your repentance in Matthew 3:8. Certainly Paul was doing so.
Are we? Paul was about leading as many as possible to faith in Christ. What are we doing? Are we supporting missionaries? Are we living in such a way as to lead people to Christ? Are we acting in such a way as to grace to others? After all Jesus said in Mark 11:25 if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them.
Forgiveness of others can act as fruit in our own lives. Hate, anger, antagonism, or wanting revenge against others can so poison our hearts and minds we can forget how much we have to rejoice about in the complete and total forgiveness of our sins, a forgiveness we did not deserve or earn. And now Jesus says we are to forgive others resulting in a great loss of poison in our hearts and minds.
The result we can do as David did in Psalm 9:2: I will be glad and rejoice in You; I will sing the praises of Your name, O Most High. We are blessed to know Jesus as our Lord and Savior giving us good reason to rejoice and be glad!
Riley D. Driver-Pastor
Calvary Chapel of Dayton