Grace as Salvation and Spiritual Gift (Ephesians 3.7–13)


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SCRIPTURE READING

Ephesians 3.7–13:

Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power. To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him. So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory.

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT

What is grace?

It is God’s unmerited favor toward sinners. God treats us better than we deserve. This is the kind of grace Paul has in mind when he writes, “by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2.5, 8). It includes all the love, acceptance, and forgiveness God gives us through Jesus Christ.

And yet, love, acceptance, and forgiveness do not exhaust the meaning of grace. In Ephesians 3.7–13, Paul writes about his mission to the Gentiles as a grace given to him:

Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power. To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him. So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory.

With these words in mind, we can expand on our definition of grace. It is God’s unmerited favor toward sinners, and it is also his power at work in them to bless others. Consequently, when we speak of grace, we should speak of what God gives to us and what God gives through us. The former is salvation; the latter is a spiritual gift.

Notice several important truths about spiritual gifts:

  1. Their source is God. Paul writes about “the working of [God’s] power.” His words warn us about using our spiritual gifts without rooting them in spiritual disciplines, such as prayer and meditation, which keep us connected to our divine power source.
  2. They are highly individualized. Paul writes of the grace given “to me.” His spiritual gift was unique to him, just as your gift is unique to you.
  3. They require humility. Paul writes, “I am the very least of all the saints.” Some Christians get carried away with their own talents, and forget that their spiritual gift is also an undeserved divine favor. Paul never made that mistake.
  4. They promote enlightenment. All spiritual gifts demonstrate to a watching world “the unsearchable riches of Christ.” Some do this with words, others with actions. We should keep in mind here the saying attributed to St. Francis of Assisi: “Preach the gospel everywhere; when necessary, use words.”
  5. They require perseverance. Paul’s use of his spiritual gift brought him into conflict with the political and religious leaders of his day. But he willingly suffered because of the benefits that flowed from God through him to others. His “suffering” was their “glory.” Serving others is not always easy, but it is always worth the effort.

So, receive God’s grace. Then pass it along.

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