I Corinthians 15:9-11
“For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. Whether, then, it is I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.”
Someone told me a few years ago that I should never say, “I am who I am,” because there is no such thing. But, I beg to differ. People don’t like to hear that because they expect us to be different; more like them perhaps. It’s the same thing as saying, “what you see is what you get.” People are funny. We act like we can’t stand something about someone, and then they change, turn their life around, and we act like that is not good enough either. (SMH). In the text above the Apostle Paul had changed – for the better – but people still turned up their noses at him. He was condemned for persecuting Christians in the past, and then was rejected for becoming a follower of Christ and spreading the very Gospel he spoke so freely against. But here Paul is saying, “Look, I know what kind of person I used to be, but I am a changed man, due only to the unearned, undeserved, unjustified love, kindness, and favor of God (GRACE).”
And so you can make this claim for yourself – “But by the grace of God, I am what I am.” If you have decided to follow Christ, it doesn’t matter how badly you treated people, or how off the mark you kept shooting, or that you were just awkward with every move you made. Heaven has forgiven and wiped the slate clean. When you opened your heart to God and made him the Lord of your life, he started making all things new in you. Yesterday is yesterday, today his mercies are new (Lamentations 3:22-23). People around you are uncomfortable and don’t know how to react because you have changed, and they have not.
Paul called himself the least of the Apostles, the chief of sinners (1 Timothy 1:15). If God could use a man committed to persecuting his children, certainly he will use you for good and for his glory. God can change you, rearrange things in your life, and raise you levels above your adversaries. He can change your heart and change your mind. It is the power of his grace that will turn you into a mouthpiece to spread his message, and a masterpiece to show the world what he can do.
The world might turn against you and refuse to accept the new you, but you have a great purpose. God’s grace is relentless enough to pursue you for as long as it takes to make sure that in your life, you fulfill destiny. Paul faced many hardships and much criticism after becoming a Christ follower, but he vowed to make his life a cause for Christ no matter what, and no matter who stood against him. (Philippians 1:21).
If this is the day you decide to live for Christ, Heaven is rejoicing; embrace the new you- you are what you are by the grace of God! Study to show yourself approved of the calling. Pray for those who still hold grudges and look down on you, and dedicate your life to one of love, grace, and mercy. All will be well with you in the name of Jesus. AMEN.
Be good, be gracious, and be a blessing to someone today.