I am grateful to God for the immense privilege we all have received to partake in what is the most precious gift He has given to the world. His abiding through the person of Christ and the communion and direction of the Holy Spirit. I do not imagine a day without the fullness of Him.
I am most grateful that He has chosen us to be the generation that will worship Him in the spirit and truth. Knowing Him as our Father, who cares so attentively for us and is able at every step of the way to make us living Epistles around this world.
I want to share some words that I have been meditating on for the past days:
1 Corinthians 15 v 10: Paul said: “By the grace of God, I am what I am (1) and the grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain (2), but I laboured more abundantly (3), yet not I (4) but the grace of God which was with me (5).“
Now all the parts of this verse are carrying such meaning for me this day because I just realized how privileged I am to have Him bringing me to that place of seeing what kind of a labour matter for Him and what is the corresponding effect of such in our lives.
Let’s just go through every part of this verse.
“…. For by the grace of God I am“; I was humbled when I heard in my heard the thankfulness of Paul in this declaration. Paul asserts that who he is in Christ now, what he thinks of himself, and how he sees himself now can only be the grace of God.
He is not referring to any qualifications he has gained in the past. He rightfully said, in Philippians 3.3, he had no confidence in what is mortal, the flesh. Though he might trust some few things in the flesh to define him, he agrees that all these are subject to collapse. That’s why he counts them to be lost. Paul defines Himself as one who is now circumcised from within, and in this circumcision, he rejoices in the one by whom this came to Pass, Christ Jesus. In other words, he has found one who could touch him from within, unveil that which he did not encounter about himself, one whom his soul could listen to and be peaceful and quiet, one whom his soul could love. A true ever-abiding him, through whom he could be that expression of the I am.
Paul rejoices that he is a being in motion in the eternal now at the pace of He who is Eternal yet continues to expand himself in the now. Because of Him who indwells him, he is no more subject to change. There’s no more a projection in the future or a sense of I will be, nor a look back in the Past nor a sense of I was. He is now one in time and space with the one within him. All this he says, can only be by the Grace of God.
“……And the grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain“; oh Glorified Father. That grace by which He became sin so I might be His righteousness, was not in vain. In other words, Him becoming the sinner I was, was not in vain. He became the despised one, He became all that was subject to damnation, He became the righteousness that is of the law, the I that am of a defensive state, that wants to prove myself (my work), that wants to be seen and acknowledged by everyone, that I might become the true righteousness of Christ, which Him alone can reveal. Glorious Father.
“…. And I laboured more abundantly“; the word labour means growing weary, tired, exhausted with toil. He says he laboured with wearisome effort and he toiled. I looked at this word Paul used, that is, the word labour. His mind does not refer to an external work. For example, when he speaks to Timothy in 1 Timothy 5:17, he speaks of those who labour in the word and doctrine. In Colossians 4:12, he says, he laboured for them always in prayers, in 1 Thessalonians 1:3, he speaks of a work of Faith but a labour of Love. Meaning that faith itself is not a labour. That’s why in Hebrew 6: 10 Paul speaks about a labour to enter His rest. All of these refer to labour from within, a labour of love, a labour for life, a labour in the word. In 1 Corinthians 9:22-23, Paul explains that he was willing day after day to be all things to all men, that he might save some and he continues to say in the next verse that this was for the sake of the Gospel, that he might be a partaker of it, not alone but with others.
No matter how we grow in the knowledge of Christ, the strength and endurance that this labour of his word, this labour of love and prayer for others and this labour to rest in Him provides cannot be substituted by anything. Proverbs 10:16 will say, “The labour of the righteous tendeth to life”. That’s why Jesus will rightly say in John 6:27 Labour not for that which perish but for everlasting life. Paul even said he had companions in this Labour (Philippians 2:25). He made it a life mission until he could have a description of those whom he could call his companions in all that it could cause or entail.
There’s a labour within the genuine believer in Christ to hold on to life, to hold unto the Logos who became flesh to tabernacle in us and be addicted to a life given mission on earth. Paul exhorts us to abound in the work of the Lord in 1 Corinthians 15:58, because he says it’s the only labour which is not in vain.
He used the word labour because it’s very probable that our unrenewed mind, and most certainly our body will not want to undergo this process. It’s a work with irksomeness and annoyance that our minds will certainly not want to give its priority to. For there will always be so many things that necessitate our attention. But Paul says it is the only thing that is fruitful in its outcome.
In other words, there’s no uncertainty of a life fully lived in Labouring for the gospel’s sake. NO UNCERTAINTY.
…. ” Yet not I”; Paul says in the process of continuously seeing myself in His word and revealing His love, there’s a corresponding admonition of Him in me, labouring with me, that He (CHRIST) might be recognized through His goodness and glory. For there will be a corresponding ministration of the spirit by which I am transformed into the same image and through which I am being read by all men. (2 Corinthians 3:18).
“…. but the grace of God which was with me“; throughout this process, there is something that God is desirous to reveal, one thing which is most important in His sight, which He wants to clarify in us. We cannot grasp it by a mental acknowledgement but it is by experience. He wants to reveal this before our very own eyes, that in Labouring for what matters to him, we should realize that we are not the source of the things we need. This is what Paul says is the grace that was given to him to witness and to experience. He could experience such trust that he could have through Christ; that he did not need to think anything of himself, nor worry about what he could accomplish pertaining to his life. He understood that in this process, in every step of the way, God was working a far more glorious ministration which exceeds in glory and righteousness for which there was nothing by him or from him that he could work out by his own self to be an epistle of God, but God himself revealed His own sufficiency (2Corinthians 3:5).
Paul explains in this same passage (2 Corinthians 3: 7-9) that, if Moses, while labouring for God could be manifested through his countenance with such glory that the children of Israel could not look at him, while he was ministering the Law, a fortiori Now, with the ministration of the spirit, as we labour in the word, in revealing God’s love, in entering His rest, God himself labours to make us a showcase of His goodness and mercy. Glory Glory Glory.
This is our prayer:
“Father I receive during this time a different perspective of life. I receive the grace to cease from my own wisdom to be a labourer in Christ and with those who labour for the gospel’s sake. I will not run in vain, nor will I labour in the vanity of my own dreams and directions. May I become a living epistle around this world, read in the hearts of men, an example of your love, your life within, and your care. Abba Father.”