Romans 16:20 …The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.
What is grace? The most common definition of grace is – ‘God’s unmerited favor.’ That is a good definition, but this week we are going a little deeper. The KJV New Testament Greek Lexicon defines grace as – “The merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues.” It is the grace of God that turns us to Christ. It is the grace of God that keeps us in Christ. And it is the grace of God that strengthens and increases us in the Christian faith.
Consider these words from the book of Philippians –
Philippians 2:12 So then, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence, but now even more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13 For it is God who is working in you, [enabling you] both to will and to act for His good purpose. CSB
First of all we should note that Paul is not saying – ‘work for your salvation.’ Instead he is saying – ‘work out your salvation.’ In other words, live it out. Put your salvation into practice. Paul also tells us something else that is very important – “for it is God who is working in you, both to will and to act for His good purpose.” In other words, it is the grace of God that is seeking to produce in and through you the things that will bring Him glory. Consider this thought in light of the Apostle Paul’s personal testimony –
1 Corinthians 15:10 But by God’s grace I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not ineffective. However, I worked more than any of them, yet not I, but God’s grace that was with me. CSB
Many have called Paul the ‘greatest Christian who ever lived’; yet Paul did not claim any glory for himself. ‘But by God’s grace – I am what I am.’ If anyone should receive any glory for what Paul did, it should be God and not Paul. But by God’s grace I am what I am.
“But wasn’t Paul very active as a Christian?” many might ask. “Didn’t he go about planting churches and telling people about Jesus? Wasn’t Paul a great Christian?” Indeed he was; but what made him great? Was it his own greatness? Paul said that it was the grace of God working in him. “I worked more than any of them – yet not I – but God’s grace that was with me.” Paul recognized that both the desire and the ability came from God. It was all of God’s grace.
The Apostle Paul was a very active Christian and he accomplished many great things; yet the driving force behind all he did was not Paul’s own goodness, but the grace of God. Through His holy influence, God was working in and through Paul and motivating him to do God’s will. Therefore, even though in the end Paul may receive rewards for his Christian work, the recognition will actually go to God. The great Apostle Paul was simply a Trophy of God’s Grace.