Grace doesn’t mean we sit back and do nothing; it should motivate us to great works that please our saviour; as I stated in last week’s blog, never because we “ought to” but rather out of a desire to please Him.
Now we are followers of Jesus our calling is to serve Him.
“And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul”. (Deuteronomy 10:12)
“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms”. (1 Peter 4:10)
Every one of us has received gifts to fulfil the tasks that God has given us. These gifts are received by grace and they are acted upon with grace. It is an absolute privilege to participate in the building up of God’s church and to contribute towards the knowledge of His good name throughout the earth.
It is important to note that the gifts we receive are not rewards. They are not given as a result of reaching a certain level of maturity in our christian walk. Just as grace is given freely, so are these gifts given to us freely.
The apostle Paul was not afraid of hard work but his hard work was only accomplished through grace.
“But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.” (1 Corinthians 15:10)
An important question to ask from this passage is “how can God’s grace be without effect?” Or put another way “how can our response to His grace frustrate the work of His grace in our lives?”
I believe there are a number of ways this can happen:
(1) Grace is ineffective when we don’t believe it.
Doubt can be a major problem in accomplishing what God has given us to do. For example, God chose Moses who came up with a load of excuses about how unqualified he was (and God got quite angry); God called Gideon who was doubtful, saying he was the least in his tribe. Thankfully both Moses and Gideon pushed through and received God’s blessing, but it is possible to disqualify yourself through lack of faith. If God says you can do it, don’t argue; His promises are true and faithful.
(2) We can overdo grace and lean into licence.
“Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves.” (1 Peter 2:16)
Don’t have an attitude which says “it doesn’t really matter, I can just do what I like….”
“I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” (Galatians 2:21)
“You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.” (Galatians 5:4)
It is very easy to slip into legalism, but if we do we will become ineffective.
Hard work is no enemy of grace. The apostle Paul did not seem to mind speaking about his hard work (see previous verse quoted-1 Corinthians 15:10).
Keep going! If grace is central, you will be able to persevere. Life can get really hard at times and serving Jesus can be quite a struggle. As we have already seen, Paul was working tremendously hard, and on top of that he had a “thorn in the flesh” to contend with, but that didn’t stop him:
“…But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9). Also in 2 Corinthians 4:16 it says
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.”
If you are beginning to lose heart I pray these last few posts will really help you to keep going. Don’t forget, His burdens are light (Matthew 11:30) and He only wants you to keep doing what He has given you to do, not what you feel you ought to be doing.