April 15, 2020
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. 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.
On Monday we asked ourselves how the uncomfortable truth of the resurrection impacts some of the comfortable truths we believe. Comfortable truths that seem to have power even apart from faith, like kindness or love. In these verses, Paul gives us some insight on at least one of the effects the resurrection causes.
He begins where all of us begin our journey with Jesus. We are not worthy or deserving. But God’s grace begins to work, and suddenly Paul says he is working harder than all the other apostles. This is where many of us stop. The easy truth is that hard work produces results. But how quickly we move from our strong sense of undeserving to one of entitlement because of our effort. Paul avoids this trap with the profound realization that it’s the grace of God providing the fuel for his endeavors.
This is where the resurrection comes into play. Paul realizes there is a power beyond what he alone can do. As Jesus said in Act 1:8
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
Here is our comfortable truth seen through an uncomfortable lens. Many of our greatest strengths and accomplishments are gifts given by God. There is, of course, a softening of this statement—taking into account our free will and self discipline. For now, though, let’s sit in the discomfort. How often do you take credit for the work that God is doing through you? How often do you pat yourself on the back for extending mercy or understanding? How often do you take wisdom for yourself instead of seeing God’s hand at work? Try seeing the good things you do with humility and thankfulness. Even greater transformation and good works lie on the other side of that door.