“By the grace of God I am what I am . . . and I worked harder than any of them. Nevertheless, it was not I, but the grace of God that was with me” (1 Corinthians 15:10).
“By the grace of God I am what I am.” This is the apostle Paul talking. While he had breath, he labored. “I worked harder than any of them.” He stayed up till who knows what hour making a tent so that he wouldn’t have to charge his churches. “I worked harder than any of them. Nevertheless, it was not I, but grace that was with me.”
The power of God’s grace in the heart of the humble believer who depends utterly on God produces incredible industry. I want to emphasize that. The grace of God — the power of his grace — in the heart of a humble believer, who depends utterly on God, produces in him incredible energy and industry.
“Deep, humble dependence on God has produced world-changing achievements.”
Listen to Philippians 2:12–13: “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who is at work in you to will and to work for his good pleasure.” The world doesn’t know what this is. The world doesn’t know.
The legacy of John Calvin in the Western world is one of absolute dependence on sovereign grace. And because of that, there was an unleashing of a tidal wave of industry that produced the world you see. It’s called the Protestant work ethic.
It was culture-shaping. It was profoundly meaningful. It was labor to the max for the glory of God. You could call it a paradox. Call it a paradox if you wish, but it’s biblical and it’s historical. Deep, humble dependence on God — sovereign grace — has produced world-changing achievements.
Here’s one more verse on this. I want this verse to mark my life till I drop. Colossians 1:29: “For this [presenting everyone mature in Christ] I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.” You take away the quest for ego satisfaction, and you make a person, totally like a child, dependent on sovereign, omnipotent grace, toil happens. Industry happens. Creativity happens. Energy happens. The unleashing of dreams happen.
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