Gifts in Vain (2 Cor 6:1-2)

We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain. (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)” (2 Corinthians 6:1–2, KJV)

Gift giving is somewhat of an art and some people seem to lack artistic skills. I have had a lot of experience in this. I have made my blunders too. I remember the time my dad gave my mother a Christmas gift of a set of cups engraved with the company logo for which he worked. He received them as a gift from the company in recognition for his work. Needless to say, my mother was not impressed. The gift was placed in a box in a closet and, as far as I know were never seen again.

When my wife and I were married, we received many gifts at our reception. One of the gifts we received was a punch bowl set. It was a nice set, though it was missing one cup. However, at that time we were not much for entertaining. And even now, we are not into punch. When we do entertain, we generally have pitchers of ice-tea, water, and a pot of coffee ready for people to drink. We never used the punch-bowl set. It stayed in the box never to be used. We had it for years and finally gave it away.

These gifts were given in vain because they were never put to use. Here, Paul wrote to the Corinthians, pleading with them that they would “receive not the grace of God in vain.” How would one receive the grace of God in vain? The major way would be to receive the message of God’s grace and never do anything with it. This seems to be Paul’s point in this passage.

Paul quoted Isaiah 49:8, “For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee.” This was in the context of God’s awesome plan to use the nation of Israel as a light to the Gentiles so that His salvation would move to the ends of the earth (Isa 49:6). It is possible that some who had not yet responded to the truth of the message of God’s grace were in danger of being swayed by the legalists to trust in works for righteousness. For this reason, Paul summarized, “behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.

The message of the gospel demands a decision. People will either believe the message and experience God’s grace or they will not. Paul’s desire, his hope, and passion was that every one who heard the message would believe and become followers of Jesus.

Unfortunately, there are many who will hear and not respond. These are the ones who will put the message in a box, store it in a closet, and never put it to use in their lives. These are ones who reject the grace of God in lieu of a worldly philosophy of either materialism or legalism, neither of which can save a person from sin. Only faith in Jesus Christ alone by faith will avail salvation.

When we preach the gospel or witness, it can sometimes be frustrating. The reason is that many will seem to summarily reject the truth of God. Yet many of these who put the gift of God in a box in the closet, may at some time open the closet, see the box, open it and use the gift, by trusting in Jesus Christ alone for eternal life. So, do not grow weary in doing good. But exhort people just as Paul did. Encourage them to take the word seriously and decide today, “now is the day of salvation,” for there is no guarantee that they will have another opportunity.

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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