The Special of the Day… From the Orange Moon Cafe…
"This Grace Given"
Before his conversion, the Apostle Paul would not have viewed any connection with Gentiles in terms of "this grace given."
"Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ" (Ephesians 3:8).
Gentiles were anathema to Saul of Tarsus, and to all first century Jews. Centuries of persecution created the animosity, along with the fleshly pride of Jews viewing themselves as God's chosen earthly nation (a blessedness that should have led to humility - Romans 2:17-29). After he trusted the Lord Jesus Christ, however, Paul discovered God's purpose of opening the Gospel message to the entire world, Jew and Gentile alike. "Christ should suffer, and that He should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should show light unto the people, and to the Gentiles… Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles" (Acts 26:23; 28:28). That which would have mortified the Apostle before Christ became his driving motivation and passion after the love of God for all entered his heart.
Unto us also is "this grace given." Our Heavenly Father privileges all of His children to be united with those we might be naturally tempted to avoid and reject. Our flesh may resist such grace, but as we submit ourselves to the Holy Spirit's uniting purpose, we will find ourselves blessed with gifts of relationship and fellowship that would have been previously viewed in far different terms. "Preach among the Gentiles?" Saul of Tarsus would have scoffed at the notion. Paul the Apostle of Christ, conversely, not only preached to former enemies. He ultimately gave his life for them. Paul died in Rome, the seat of Gentile power, and a place he might well have avoided for a lifetime had God not revealed His love in the Apostle for Gentiles. In our own lives, the Lord will motivate and empower our own sacrifices in living and communicating the Gospel to those we might naturally neglect or shun. "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you, that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven" (Matthew 5:44-45).
We do well to expect "this grace given" as we walk with God and with people. Who will He lead us to embrace rather than avoid? For whom will He empower us to show His favor, surprising perhaps both they and ourselves? As He leads us in His love, we shall see how "this grace given" not only united us with God through Christ, the most unlikely union of all, but with people He loves, and whom He leads us to love.
"And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped Him, saying, Lord, if Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean. And Jesus put forth His hand, and touched him."
Weekly Memory Verse
And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.
(I Timothy 1:14)