Take a Closer Look
The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
When was the last time you took a good look at yourself? No, I don't mean the couple of minutes you spend daily basking in your own beauty! Rather, a look at your past, present, and future? Where you were, how you got to where you are, and how you plan on getting to the places you want to be? In this passage we can see Paul is doing just that, taking a good look at himself.
The Past: Many times Christians do an excellent job of remembering... to forget our past. We avoid this time of our lives because we feel shame or guilt for thinking, saying, and doing the things we did. For some, ignoring the past may allow us to create an illusion that these events never occurred. While for some, the past is a recurrent stumbling block which prohibits forward progress. Here we can see Paul looking back on his days as Saul. Paul openly acknowledges that he was the worst of the worst! A complete lost cause! Why would anyone want to think of that? Paul openly shares his past so that he may encourage young believers. Many times we struggle with the thought that our past is beyond God's grace. Paul here demolishes that thought and exclaims that God's grace was not just given to him, but given in abundance! Remembering our "Saul days" can enable us to understand the love that Christ has for us and spread hope to others that God's grace is available in abundance. Only then can we grow away from our "past-selves" and live as present Christians.
The Present: Paul begins this portion with an opening statement of thanks! He is thanking God for giving him the strength he needs to accomplish God's will. Many times as God's chosen people, we feel overwhelmed and or burdened by the tasks given to us. Paul's statement is the perfect response to this feeling! Paul makes it very clear that he is honored and considers it a privilege that God entrusted him to do His will. Remember, Paul was an individual who was constantly persecuted, imprisoned, and isolated, but he remains thankful for the opportunity God gave him to serve. Are we a people who are thankful to God for allowing us to do His will?
The Future: In the closing verse of this portion we can see what Paul has in mind for the future. Paul doesn't aim for fame, power, respect, or recognition. He simply declares that he will continuously give glory and honor to God through all his actions. We as Christians are given the responsibility of checking our motives. Many times we are involved in programs or groups not to bring glory to God, but to ourselves. Paul states very clearly that all glory is unto the only true God, forevermore!
Only when we completely submit our lives to His plan can we really see ourselves and allow others to see God through us. So as your week goes on, remind yourself of your past and of the grace and love of God. Challenge yourself to be more faithful to God. Be thankful that God has entrusted you to do His will. Finally, aim to bring glory and praise, in all that you do, to the only true God. Remember though, this task is not easy and it requires sacrifice! After all, it took Paul a period of blindness before he could really see.
Prayer: Dear God Thank you for being with us during the past, duiding me during my present and for the promise of your presence in the future. Amen
Thought for the Day: Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever
Gracious John, St. Andrews MTC , NY.