Grace Is Power
August 10, 2022
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. 1 Corinthians 15:10 NIV
But whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out his special favor on me—and not without results. For I have worked harder than any of the other apostles; yet it was not I but God who was working through me by his grace. 1 Corinthians 15:10 NLT
Our three children all had the same wonderful teacher for sixth grade. Mr. Barrett led with purpose and intent. Each year the first day of school featured two bulletin boards. The first said, “God loves you just the way you are!” This bulletin board highlighted the students’ personalities and gifts throughout the year. The second bulletin board said, “But He loves you too much to just let you stay that way.” As they identified their characteristics needing change and work, they prayed together for the necessary adjustments. Mr. Barrett continually taught that this was not a self-help course; it was working with God’s power for His purpose in their lives.
Paul would have been a star pupil in Mr. Barrett’s class. Truthfully, I believe Mr. Barrett was a star pupil in Paul’s class. He learned we are created for growth into the image of Christ, and God’s grace is power to make that happen! Paul gratefully acknowledged he was not who and what he once was. He was a persecutor of Christians when he met Jesus, and received His grace as pardon for his sin. But he didn’t just receive forgiveness and that was it. God’s grace worked with Paul at a deep, internal level. It wasn’t that he simply quit killing Christians. It was that he no longer saw himself as superior and wiser. His controlling spirit and hatred changed. If we knew Paul’s family, we could certainly identify many areas that his personal habits, perspective, and choices impacted them negatively. They saw him change. Everyone saw the changes that progressively grew throughout Paul’s entire life, making him a humbly confident and faithful follower of Jesus. God’s grace had this powerful effect on him, and he cooperated with that grace by working hard with God.
That grace still gives us power in exactly the same manner. This week I met with a big man and his fully grown 24-year-old son. The father asked the son to come to counseling with him to work on their relationship. The dad made the appointment because “our struggles are based in my poor fathering and anger when he was young.” This new-believer dad of about two years is getting ready to marry his longtime girlfriend and asked his startled son to please forgive him for the legacy of his “messed-up” life. The son, struggling with big demons of his own, shook his head in amazement. “What happened to you??” The dad in unlearned, humble language told him how his “sins fell off” and God was helping him change every single day. Whew. Grace.
- The power of grace is lifelong. What is changing in me NOW as I cooperate with grace?