I am singing,”This is My Grace” and in my mind’s eye I see the figure on the cross – arms stretched wide – crown of thorns on His head – behind Him is a growing light – becoming more and more intense, almost blindingly bright – the crown is turning to burnished gold.
“ This is my Grace, represented by my open arms – ready to give and ready to receive you with no merit required. My Grace starts with an attitude I have towards you all. An attitude of giving all without expecting any merit from you. That attitude however, turns to power which was released on the cross – the power to forgive all sin, the power to restore you and make you whole. The power to change lives – making you productive, filling you with joy, enabling you to experience love, My love which I gift to you by My grace. It is a miracle. It starts as a miracle and goes on as a daily miracle till you come home to experience the glory of My presence.
Talk has power? Yes? Words can build up and cause one to want to fly. They can also be used to destroy, faith, self respect, hope and much else. Some words may stay with us our whole lives. Yet Paul ends this whole section in which he has been speaking about divisions in the church with the statement in 4:20 “For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of talk, but power”.
So the one thread has been about the power of the gospel to save and transform lives. A power, different to ordinary knowledge, but a power which is released by God’s Spirit when the gospel is explained. Paul has been discussing the causes of the divisions in the Church. In summary he he centers on the phrase, “Some are inflated with pride” 4:18.
So what He is saying is that they are all talk. They have plenty to say. However their lives do not demonstrate the changing power of the gospel. True gospel believers, mature gospel believers are characterized by humility and an attitude of service towards others, like the Master.
Their various leaders are saying plenty in an effort to draw attention. From 4:5 Paul reminds them of the Apostle’s example. Their attitude of humility comes from recognizing, 4:7 “What do you have that you did not receive?”
If we see and understand this apostolic lesson that any attribute, any gift, any talent, any opportunity to serve is a pure gift from God, which should be accepted and used for the benefit of building the kingdom, without attracting attention to oneself. If we can grasp that in our innermost being, then we will have a start to prevent us from becoming inflated by our own opinion.
Hard to do? That is why the power of the gospel is so important. It is so easy to slip into the position of enjoying any attention and becoming “puffed up”.
Each one of us is different. We each have a different temperament and character. Different gifts and abilities. Different ways of expressing ourselves and our circumstances are equally different. So when I say that we all have one thing in common, it will manifest itself in different ways for each of us. So we each have one central problem; that is our own ego and self-interest. Sometimes I feel I am winning against this evil, then I come crashing down again. That is why we must take Paul’s words very seriously. Each one must beware of this in ourselves and go the Lord in confession to receive gospel forgiveness and the real power to overcome.
So the Lord is saying again to me, this week, humble yourself under the mighty hand of God, serve as if you are serving me and enjoy it as a gift I have given you. Remember My power in you and available to you to serve