Theme: THE UNSEARCHABLE RICHES OF HIS GRACE
DAY 28, Read 2 Corinthians 11:16-33
GRACE TO LABOUR
Key Text: “…but I labored more than they all, and yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” 1 Corinthians 15:10
Grace is given to us for the purpose of kingdom work and not leisure. For many, the grace of God is for leisure and convenience, but for Paul the grace of God is for laboring in the work of the kingdom. Listen to what he says, “… but I labored more than them all, and yet not I but the grace of God which was with me.” What a good way to harness the grace of God!
Our key text for today shows a boast made by the Apostle Paul. Paul was not given to boasting except in his infirmities (See 2 Corinthians 10:13-18; 11:10-21). But this time he lays claim to working more than the other apostles. He attributes the success of his labor to the grace of God given to him. The other Apostles had discriminated against him on the grounds of his past credentials, that he was a persecutor for which they claimed he should not be called an Apostle. But, Paul countered their claim by saying that he labored more than them.
To what extent were his claims true? In what sense did grace enable him to labor more than his peers and predecessors? Let us bear in mind that Paul referred to two kinds of labor in his writings. He labored to support himself (Acts 20:33-35). Secondly, he labored to disciple and build up the churches as among the Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 2:9).
Paul lists the credentials of his labor and sufferings in 2 Corinthians 11:22–12:1-13, to counter the claims of the allegations from other disciples. When you read these two chapters you will notice that his claims were not mere empty boasts. For him, the grace of God gave him the ability to make sacrifices and to fulfill his destiny, which included suffering persecutions for the sake of Christ.
First, Paul was always breaking new frontiers in ministry; he did not labor where others had labored. “To preach the gospel in the regions beyond you, and not to boast in another man’s sphere of accomplishment” (2 Corinthians 10:15-16). After planting a church he stayed on in a field to teach and disciple the converts to the point of maturity. For example in Ephesus, he spent three years teaching and training the concerts. “Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears. So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified” (Acts 20:31,32).
Another reason why Paul labored more than others was because he did not only plant churches and leave them; he revisited the churches to give them guidelines and to appoint elders. Where he could not do that he sent faithful disciples like Timothy and Titus. “For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you” (Titus 1:5).
Paul wrote letters to the churches to strengthen them and to give them guidelines on how to live or relate among themselves. He was very concerned about the welfare of the Churches (2 Corinthians 12:16; 1 Thessalonians 1:5-12). He made sacrifices for the churches and shared in their burden (2 Corinthians 11: 28,29).
All these portrayed Paul as not only a laborer, but also a wise master builder. These are a glimpse of Paul’s work. They confirm his claims as one who labored more than many of his critics.
PRAYER: Father, may the grace of God help us to fulfill our destiny like Paul did.