1 Corinthians 15:9-11
Have you ever had the painful experience of trying to convince someone of something you didn’t fully believe yourself? Perhaps you were trying to sell a product you knew was less effective than it was advertised to be. Or you tried to write a letter of recommendation for someone you didn’t know well or didn’t think was well suited for the job in question. Or you were asked to sign a petition for a cause you could not conscientiously endorse.
Paul proclaims grace effectively because he has experienced it firsthand and believes in it fully. His words ring true. His teaching bears the authenticity of testimony. He doesn’t commend to others what he hasn’t tested in his own life. Paul attributes everything he has become to God’s life-changing love: By the grace of God, I am what I am (v. 10). His story describes a radical transformation; he has no other explanation for this dramatic change in his life than the power of God’s love.
An authentic experience of grace results in profound humility rather than spiritual pride or excessive religiosity. Paul remembers how he inflicted pain on those who were followers of Jesus. He knows that he is unworthy of God’s favor. Overwhelmed by God’s grace, the only thing he can do is express his deep gratitude. Robert Robinson, who wrote the hymn, “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” conveys the response of the grateful heart: “O to grace how great a debtor / Daily I’m constrained to be.”
Paul has a profound sense of stewardship for this grace he has experienced. It births his sense of mission and his desire to become all that God desires him to be. Those who experience life-changing grace bear grace to others. The “graced” are meant to become the “grace-full.”
Name something done for you that you can’t repay. How did you respond?
God of Grace, help me become gracious like you, so that those who know me well will find it easier to believe in you and your persistent love. Amen.