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1 Corinthians 15: 9 – 10

For I am the least of the apostles, who am not fit 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 toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of the them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me.

Paul enters the story of the Christian church as one of the preeminent weapons that Satan had in play, perhaps even the most valuable tool in Satan’s arsenal. He was zealous in his persecution of Christians. It is perhaps a bit difficult for us to fully appreciate what a bad guy Paul, then Saul, really was. Imagine today someone who goes throughout the country, fully authorized, beating, stoning and imprisoning Christians simply because of their faith. In happens in other countries even today but this is not something that occurs in most of our experiences. Then imagine that the guy who is the most zealous and dangerous persecutor of all becomes a minister of the gospel. It really is difficult to wrap your head around.  

How was Paul ever able to stand in the presence of God? How could he even pray to the one whom he persecuted? He tells us in this passage. Only the grace of God could repair a relationship which was so badly broken. Only grace could cover Paul’s sin and the harm that he did to so many people. Grace does what nothing else can. Only God’s grace can take our damage and turn it around for good. 

Humility is a good thing in a person because, as was the case with Paul, it allows the grace of God to wipe away our idiocy so that in God’s eyes we are as pure and innocent as Jesus himself. Paul describes himself as the least of all of the apostles. He is humble as to his own stature and merit. None the less, he boasts in the work that God was able to do through him but he says it is because of the grace.

Some people use the message of grace as a way to excuse their sin or continue in it but, you see, that isn’t grace. Grace reaches out to your brokenness and creates a saint. Grace doesn’t just cover your mistakes. It eradicates them. But … if you have truly been touched by grace, then you have a deep, deep desire to never sin in any form ever again. Grace repairs a person’s heart and reforms them into the very image of the Christ. No one who understands grace, or even fathoms a smidgen about grace, will intentionally keep sinning. A person who would use the blood of Jesus to continue to sin is a fool and I don’t want to even stand near them. That is an insult to the blood of Jesus and blasphemes the Holy Spirit. My point is, do not let an idiot teach you the meaning of grace. Don’t even give that kind of person your ear for a moment for there is nothing they can say that would enlighten even one hair of your head. 

Grace turned the biggest sinner of the age into the greatest apostle of the time. Grace takes people like you and me and makes us giants because grace requires nothing of us except humble surrender. When we understand that grace is not about us but is only about the goodness of God then we can experience a new level of freedom. And by the grace of God, we can do all things. Whatever God has put in your heart, you can do because His grace will do for you what it did for Paul. You can be the greatest apostle of this age. He who surrenders best will win the race. The more we let go of ourselves and rely solely on the grace of God, the stronger and more effective we become. Isn’t that great news? Even if you are the biggest mess on the block, the dunce of the family, tomorrow could be a whole different story. Even if you have been out persecuting and killing Christians, you could become the best mouthpiece for God of our age. Never lose hope; just lose yourself in the grace of God.

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