Brothers and sisters: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus, for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind — just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you — so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ.
He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful; by him you were called into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Pause. Pray. Reflect.
Before I was a Christian, I could never understand why anyone would thank God for winning a race or an award, when it was clearly by their own hard work, skill, and perseverance that they had won. Now, I see it as giving credit where credit is due… we can only accomplish so much on our own, and now that I have experienced the reality of God’s grace in my own life, I can attest to this firsthand.
Saint Paul speaks here of the beauty and freedom that come with surrendering to the call of God’s creative and generous gift of grace. Strength, power, and effectiveness are considered good things by secular standards but, like everything, they are multiplied by grace – they take on a new and different quality. Think water into wine, loaves and fishes, the scandalous extravagance of the welcome home of the squandering son.
What does this mean?
It means that grace is the difference. Grace is what sets Christianity apart. Acknowledging that all things, including our free will, have their origin in God, and giving them back to Him in gratitude is the difference. Understanding that our own power is insignificant compared to His, but that He wants to share His power with us. It only benefits us to give the glory of our accomplishments to God, because His desire is to enrich and strengthen and improve and deepen and beautify all of us to make the world a better place. It takes courage to surrender to a mysterious power that is outside our own control, because it requires a trust in the goodness of this power that is beyond our understanding. But whenever I reach the end of myself, in whatever I try to do – whenever I face that inevitable thought “I can’t do this” – my next breath must be the prayer, “Lord, help me.” And by the power of His mysterious grace, I can be sure that He will.