But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me. (1 Corinthians 15:10)
Part Two: Grace Invites Christian Service
…His grace toward me did not prove vain, but I labored even more than all of them…
The second effect of the grace of God that Paul cites in 1 Corinthians 15:10 is an invitation to hard, sacrificial service to the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul says that he’d worked hard in his ministry of apostleship. The word he used, labor, also described the exhaustion of fishermen after a long night of hauling in nets, or the bone-dry weariness of a traveler who had walked a long distance without food and water. Paul writes that had he not labored harder than even his fellow apostles had, then God’s grace would have been emptied of its power and effect. It would have become a failed endeavor. Grace, according to this verse, is diminished if it is not met with a wholehearted, engaged, life of service.
Grace invites us to the same sacrificial, lifelong service to our Lord Jesus. I don’t have the insight to know if I work harder than any other Christian does in ministry (in fact, I think I can safely guarantee that I don’t!), but the grace of God calls me to work hard. It falls short of its purpose, at least as far as I am to experience it, when I do not use it to lead me to a life of a deeper, more robust engagement in whatever works of ministry He sends my way. Grace is not given to us to make us a well-rested, safer, more common-sense people. No, in its giving comes a calling, opportunity, and empowerment to live in a deeper commitment of service to the Lord, to His beloved people, and to all the world.