Steadfast Day 3 Not In Vain
1 Corinthians 15:8-11
Often, progress in the Christian life can seem slow. Sometimes it can feel as if we’re pushing forward, trying to do the right thing day by day, without really getting anywhere.
It can be tempting to look at the lives of Jesus’ followers in the Bible and think the process of spiritual growth was different for them, especially when it comes to someone like Paul.
Paul has the honour of being designated an apostle. An apostle is a messenger, someone sent on a mission, commissioned to represent another. In Biblical terms, the word usually refers to Jesus’ twelve disciples who knew Him and were taught by Him personally.
Paul’s situation is slightly different, though. When Jesus was living on earth, Paul was not one of His followers. In fact, following Jesus’ resurrection and ascension, Paul (or Saul, as he was also known) was one of the fiercest opponents and most relentless persecutors of those who tried to spread the Good News of Jesus.
But everything changed when, on the way to Damascus to arrest the Christians who had travelled there, Paul encountered Jesus for himself. (Acts 9:1-20) Blinded by a dazzling light, Paul heard Jesus’ voice speaking to him personally, and he was appointed to preach about Jesus to the Gentiles.
It was such a powerful calling that Paul described himself as “one born at the wrong time.” (1 Corinthians 15:8) Although he did not know Jesus in the same way the other apostles, there was no question he had encountered Jesus in a very personal way.
Paul was clear he was called by God and “not from men or by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised him from the dead[.]” (Galatians 1:1)
Despite Paul’s dishonourable past, when we consider his life after he encountered Jesus, it can be tempting to think of him as some kind of super-apostle. He spread the Gospel far and wide, establishing many churches; he wrote thirteen letters which are included in the New Testament; he saw countless lives transformed. His life seems to be full of excitement and success.
However, Paul understood his calling and his accomplishments were not because of his own worthiness. In fact, he clearly knew he was unworthy. “For I am the least of the apostles, not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.” (1 Corinthians 15:9) He knew the credit for all he achieved must go to God. “By the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain[.]” (1 Corinthians 15:10)
Paul’s dramatic conversion story didn’t mean every aspect of his growth in faith happened quickly. He still had a lot of learning and growing to do along the way.
After Paul’s conversion, he spent three years in Arabia. The Bible doesn’t provide details, but it is likely he spent significant time with God, studying the Old Testament Scriptures in the light of his new relationship with Jesus.
He wrote later, “[T]he gospel preached by me is not of human origin. For I did not receive it from a human source and I was not taught it, but it came by a revelation of Jesus Christ.” (Galatians 1:11-12) Only after this three-year period did he go to Jerusalem to meet with Peter and James and begin his ministry.
Throughout his life, Paul worked hard (1 Corinthians 15:10) and endured much hardship. (2 Corinthians 11:23-27) There were times he doubted himself and needed reassurance from others. (Galatians 2:1-2)
It was not always easy for Paul to follow Jesus, but he was clear that, just as he encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus by God’s grace, it was God’s grace that also sustained him and empowered him in his work.
May this be an encouragement to us on days when our progress seems slow.
Just as Paul was not transformed into a super-apostle overnight, neither will we be.
Just like Paul, we have God’s grace to help us and sustain us as we keep moving forward, and all our little baby steps forward can add up to a great distance over time.
“Your labour in the Lord is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:58)
Steadfast Day 4
He became one of the most faithful Christians of all time, dedicating his life to sharing the Gospel. Paul allowed God’s grace to empower his life, ensuring that God’s grace was not given in vain.
Can We Pray With You?
Prayer is central to our ministry as believers in Jesus as we carry eachother’s burdens and intercede for one another. Our team is honored to share the work of praying alongside you!
This Week's Lock Screen
Authentically living out a life of worship to the God who rescued us from darkness requires accountability and intentionality. Join a GT POD and take the next step in your faith journey!