Gutter to Glory (1 Cor 15:9-11)

For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed.” (1 Corinthians 15:9–11, KJV)

Who am I? As I sit here looking at Paul’s words, a humbling thought came to me. Who am I to think that anything I have written should bless anyone. I look at my electronic library and my myriad of books in my library and think, “Why should anyone want to read my musings?” This especially when you consider that there are so many other theologians, Bible scholars, Greek and Hebrew language experts, who are much more experienced, studied, intelligent, and prominent than me. Yet, God put it on my heart to write, even if no one ever reads any of it. Even if it all falls into a pile of unopened books. Who am I?

When I look at the Apostle Paul, “Who am I?” Moreover, as prominent as Paul was, in serving and in writing, he declared himself, the least of the apostles.” Paul also described himself as the chief of sinners (1 Tim 1:15). When I look at Paul, I have to ask myself the question, “Who am I?”

I have preached hundreds of sermons. Yet, I have only ever preached one where the power of God was so manifested to see some sixty men come to profess Jesus. Paul was responsible for planting churches, grounding believers in doctrine, seeing people come to faith. Standing in his shadow is a humbling place. And yet, after all he did, he stated that he was the least of the apostles? Then, “Who am I?”

After contemplating all of this, I can come to only one conclusion. It is not about me. It is all about Him, that is Jesus. Paul summarized this. He worked hard for the glory of God, but it was not him, “but the grace of God:” with him. It is that way for every believer. Some have a large part in God’s redemptive plan, and some have a smaller part. However, large or small it is not about the servant, but the Lord who has by grace saved and empowered every believer to glorify Him through those good works that He has prepared for us to do. See Paul’s word to the Ephesians.

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:8–10, KJV)

So, we are to humbly take our part in God’s redemptive plan large or small and be grateful that the Lord has been gracious to give us a part. We also will realize that ours is just to obey for His glory and not ours. In doing so, there is great reward. It is God who brings the increase and produces lasting fruit through what we do. We must trust him in this, and continue to be faithful to His calling.

“Who am I?” I am a recipient of His amazing grace!

Published by Steve Hankins, Th.D.

Steve has had extensive military, business and ministry experience. He has served for over 16 years in full time vocational ministry and many years of part time ministry in churches. He has led churches through start-up and recasting of vision. Now He resides on the Outer Banks of North Carolina where he is working to help smaller churches and believers to renew their hearts and regain the joy of the Lord.

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