Today is another Monday with a new verse rolling around in my head.
I was in 2 Corinthians 6 and although I continued to read the entire chapter, I couldn’t get the last part of verse one out of my head.
Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. 2 Corinthians 6:1
Apparently we can receive the grace of God in vain and Paul thought the church at Corinth was in danger of it somehow. But what does that mean?
To do something in vain means to do it with no effect………without any useful result…….for no purpose. Like when you work really hard to lose 10 pounds but the scale numbers stay the same. Or campaigning for your favorite candidate only for them to lose the election. The work of exercising and eating right or the hours stuffing envelopes at campaign headquarters feel like a waste. No use at all.
Paul says that God’s grace to him was not in vain in 1 Corinthians 15:10: But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.
Paul explains that God’s grace to him was not in vain by reminding the church of his hard work. Paul doesn’t take credit for his work though. He points to God’s grace.
Grace was received. Work was done. Paul labored in love because of God’s grace, NOT for God’s grace. There’s a vast difference between because and for. One is relationship, the other religion. One is a matter of the heart, the other is a list of dos and don’ts. One makes us humble, the other makes us proud.
The more Paul worked…..the more good he did, the less he thought of himself and the more he glorified God. Because that’s what grace does.
One way to receive God’s grace in vain is to make it all about me. To live my life, my way. Build my kingdom instead of God’s. Work for my comfort and safety without considering the comfort and safety of others.
Grace in vain makes me forget who I was before grace.
Grace in vain secretly, or maybe not so secretly, thinks I deserve the grace because of my knowledge, my faith, my leadership or accomplishments.
Grace in vain takes pride in reaching my next level. Takes pride in checking off the “good Christian” to do list.
Grace in vain makes all the work for nothing. The work is still done but without the intended results. Hardened hearts instead of soft ones. Less compassion, more judgment. Less peace, more fear. More about me. Less about God.
But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace. Romans 11:6
But grace, the kind that is not received in vain, remembers that God is the Grace Giver and we are nothing but what He makes us. This kind of grace makes us humble but gives us confidence. We grow and flourish in this grace. This grace flows through our love for God and for others.
“to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. Ephesians 1:6
Unfortunately, I don’t live in God’s grace perfectly. Thankfully, His grace covers that too.
Are there any areas in your life you aren’t acting on the grace you’ve received?