By the Grace of God . . .
Every Christian can and must confess with the apostle Paul, “By the grace of God I am what I am” (1 Cor. 15:10). This well-known verse shows that God’s grace is not merely a “get out of jail free” card that allows us to behave in any way we wish.
This is the tragedy of much thinking about God’s grace today. Notice that Paul goes on to say, “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” (1 Cor. 15:10). He affirms that he worked harder than others only by the grace of God. Grace works.
Because of the grace of God, there exists absolutely no room for pride in the Christian life.
All of Grace
God bestows many gifts on his children. They are all of grace. Some of these gifts are titles and privileges; others enable us to be diligent for the work of God’s kingdom. But whatever we accomplish, we do so by the grace of God. Spurgeon appropriately notes,
When we put our foot upon the threshold of glory, and pass through the gate of pearl to the golden pavement of the heavenly city, the last step will be as much taken through the grace of God, as was the first step when we turned unto our great Father in our rags and misery. Left by the grace of God for a single moment, we would perish. We are dependent as much upon grace for spiritual life as we are upon the air we breathe for this natural life.
Because of the grace of God, there exists absolutely no room for pride in the Christian life. None whatsoever. Speaking to the Corinthians, Paul says, “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?” (1 Cor. 4:7).
What Grace Creates
The Scriptures never seem to tire of warning us that God’s grace should inspire in us thankfulness, praise, and humility. Thus, Paul explains to the Romans, “For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned” (Rom. 12:3). John the Baptist similarly remarks, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven” (John 3:27).
Grace shown to us leads us to exercise our humility both before God (from whom every gift comes, James 1:17) and before man. We should show not envy toward others for the gifts God has seen fit to give them and not us but rather thankfulness that he has given anything at all. Our own gifts should prompt not pride in ourselves but humility toward God, who alone makes us to differ.
Apart from the grace of God, all our best efforts are like menstrual cloths before a holy God (Isa. 64:6). He finds and creates in us what is pleasing to him because he is gracious. If God showed grace to his beloved Son, who was made like us in every way except without sin, then how much more do we need grace? Such grace sustains us spiritually in the same way that the air sustains us physically.
This article is adapted from God Is: A Devotional Guide to the Attributes of God by Mark Jones.