Grace and Effort

September 4, 2019

“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 

Life is full of hard things. It is just a fact. There is no escaping or avoiding this reality. Whether it is facing a giant obstacle like an illness or divorce, or trudging through daily demands when there is seemingly never enough time, energy, or resources, life can be hard. Let me ask you a question: What goes through your mind when you move from the easy to the difficult? As followers of Jesus, we should be living a life that steps beyond what is comfortable to what is necessary. We not only experience the hardships of life – sometimes we choose them for the sake of Christ and His Kingdom. This is where grace comes in.

The truth behind everything in our lives – both the easy and the hard - is the grace of God. 1 Corinthians 4:7 poses the (rhetorical) question: “What do you have that you did not receive?” There is a mental approach to doing hard things that is of great spiritual benefit. This approach deals with how God’s grace and our effort work together. When we find ourselves in situations that are particularly hard – whether it be physical, spiritual, emotional, or mental – our minds will immediately start searching for motivation to persevere. The easiest motivations are self-absorbed, like wanting to succeed, or to look good to other people. The mind will always default to these shallow motivations if it isn’t occupied with something – or Someone – greater.

What if we trained our minds to default to grace? What if our motivation became the demonstration of God’s grace in how we respond to our hardship? It hurts to go on. We don’t want to choose joy, or forgiveness, or service, yet we do. By His grace, we do. Each time we choose to walk in obedience, we are testifying that God’s grace enables us to do hard things. In that moment, God’s grace carries us…and yet we are working…the perfect dance of grace and effort. We can work out our salvation, having full assurance that we are saved by grace, not by our works.

Father, Help me to work hard, by Your grace. I want my life to be used for the advancement of Your Kingdom.

In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Topics: Grace

Bible Reference

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.
For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?