1 Corinthians 15:9-11
Titus 2:11-14, 3:3-8
All of these passages have at least one thing in common. The commonality of them all is that God’s grace toward the undeserving is completely sufficient to motivate the believer to action. Motivation is often overlooked in our lives. It speaks to the inward reality of an individual or group for the action or word that is performed. Motivation is key to having a healthy walk with the Lord. The inward reality or disposition of our minds is so fundamentally important that God states that without faith we cannot please Him (Heb. 11:6). Faith addresses our inward disposition to an action or word that is seen or heard by men. This shows that God puts a premium on our inward disposition and motivations.
God sees our inner man, He sees our motivation, He sees what drives our actions and words. If our words and actions come from a self-centered, people pleasing, or faulty worldview our words and actions are of no value to God because the motivation, our inward disposition, is flawed.
In Genesis 12 we see that God blessed Abram so that he would be a blessing to others. God initiated the blessing! He blessed Abram before Abram blessed anyone. God wanted to woo Abram over with His undeserved grace so that Abram would first know what it meant to be blessed which would set an example and foundation for him to be a blessing to others.
That wasn’t just an Old Testament reality but it flows through the Old into the New Testament. The New Testament, ultimately Christ, shows us this way of life in vivid color. What was it in man that Christ would come to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10)? Think about that for a moment, ponder the question. Well, there was absolutely nothing innate, inherent or performed by man that caused Christ to come to seek and save. Absolutely nothing! However, because God the Father in His perfect, no strings attached, one-way, undeserved love acted in grace by giving us the greatest gift in His Son (John 3:16-18). And Christ who is full of grace and truth (John 1:14) came to give us blessing upon blessing out of the fullness of Himself (John 1:16). That was His plan “A” from day 1.
That grace which He bestowed upon and in us was Himself. As we grow in our understanding and experience that Christ gave Himself in that fashion, we will start to see that it was not only for salvation (from hell to heaven) that He did that but also to have us live in and live out our salvation, by His enablement, in practical and tangible ways (Phil. 2:12-13). Grace, as perfectly displayed in Christ, is our true motivation. It has to be.
Read and consider Romans 12:1-2, Ephesians 4:1-3, and Colossians 3:1-4. Perhaps Paul's most doctrinal and foundational books and in all 3 of them he first establishes and roots the Church in Christ and His grace, then exhorts and teaches the Church what it looks like to live in Christ and His grace. He wants us to be convinced that nothing will separate us from Christ and His love for us even when we don’t have lovable thoughts, actions or words. Only Christ and His grace can explain that.
In Romans 12 we are encouraged to offer our bodies as living sacrifices. However, that exhortation comes after the necessary reminder of God’s mercy in our lives (Romans 1-11). In Ephesians 4 we are called to walk worthy of our calling. It took Paul 3 chapters to remind the Ephesian Church of what their calling already was, past tense. He was asking them to walk in who they already were in Christ. And in Colossians 3 Paul first reminds them of what God had already done for them as well as to them for the purpose of establishing a foundation for their practical walk with Him. He reminded them of who they were by what Christ had done so that they would properly understand the walk of faith with Christ today.
Why is this all important? Well, first and foremost, it is important because it displays the character and nature of our Heavenly Father, our Savior, and the permanently indwelling Holy Spirit. If we misunderstand God, we will misunderstand EVERYTHING else. It starts and ends with Him. Secondly, as God is the example and standard we now have an eternally powerful and healthy motivation to follow Christ as His disciple. Christ and His grace are our motivation.
The solid foundation of Christ, the fullness of grace, can establish a strong assurance within us that sets us well for living with Him today in a world that desperately needs Him. We will be led into the valley of death of people’s lives, if you will, but if we are still wondering about our life and salvation in Christ, if we have doubts of our security in Him, we will never walk with Him in confidence through those valleys for the good of others. Only Christ and His grace assure us that everything will be OK even when it seems as if it's not.
In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul makes a bold statement about his work in light of the work of the other apostles. If his statement is not understood in its context and entirety it would be see outlandish and ludicrous. He states that he worked harder than any other the apostles. Wow, what a prideful egomaniac! Well, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Right after that he states, “Yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.” Paul connected His work to the grace of God. He saw that it, God’s grace, was with and in him in all that he did. He recognizes that he should not receive any accolades from others because it was Another that was the source of the work that he did.
Christ is our life (Col. 3:4) and the life that we live is a life of faith (Gal. 2:20). That can ONLY be a reality through the grace of God.