Advent: December 15

Advent: December 15

Ephesians 3:7-13

7 I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. 8 Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ, 9 and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things.

10 His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, 11 according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. 12 In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.

13 I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory.

Through God’s mercy, and by God’s grace, Saul was a changed man. God commissioned him to bring the gospel message to people across the Roman world. What a privilege! He lost none of his former zeal, but that it was now applied to spreading, not extinguishing, the message of the boundless riches of Christ.

The high privilege brought with it high honour, but it also brought suffering. God knew this, Paul soon realised it (after all, it would be a taste of his own medicine!), but it did not keep him from carrying out the work God had assigned to him. Grace carried him through.

We could think that Paul is overdoing the “ever so ‘umble” aspect, when he says that he is the least of all the Lord’s people, but it is a truth, both enlightening and frightening, that the more you get to know God in Jesus, the more you are aware of your personal shortcomings. Read Romans chapter 7 to see how Paul describes it. Nevertheless, God saw in Saul a man who would carry out his mission to the world.

How do you understand verse 10 above?

Does the prospect of suffering discourage you from giving yourself fully to Christ’s work?

Father God, you chose Saul for great works. You have also chosen me. I’m not a doctrinal expert, nor a deeply learned scholar of the Bible, nor do I have a back ready for flogging, but you know me perfectly, and you call me by your gift of grace to be part of your work in this world. I give myself to your call and to your grace. Amen.